Federal Government calls Enbridge project into question

SMITHERS – The battle to extend the oil tanker moratorium off British Columbia’s coast took an unexpected turn last week when the federal government said that “a tanker exclusion zone in British Columbia” would be maintained. New Democrats are demanding clarification and a commitment to extending the existing moratorium on tanker traffic.

During Question Period last Friday, Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis said “...no oil tankers are allowed in the Inside Passage. That is the way it is, and it will not change.” 

“The Minister’s comments raise some serious doubts about Enbridge’s pipeline and tanker proposal” said Nathan Cullen (Skeena Bulkley Valley). “There seems to be a real gap between Enbridge’s plans and what the government is now saying”

Enbridge’s proposal would carry heavy crude through a 1,170 km pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to Kitimat, BC. Up to 255 tankers each year would then navigate the Douglas Channel and the Inside Passage on their way to sea.

The Conservative Government has previously denied the existence of a 1972 Moratorium on inland oil tanker traffic on the BC coast. A Private Member’s Bill introduced by New Democrat Fisheries and Oceans Critic Fin Donnelly would enshrine the moratorium in law by outlawing oil tankers in the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound.

“We encourage the federal government to put their money where their mouth is and make the moratorium law,” said Fin Donnelly (New Westminster-Coquitlam Port Moody).  “BC’s north coast is far too fragile and pristine to take chances with. It must be protected now.”

“People from across northern British Columbia are uniting against oil tanker traffic,” said Cullen. “Coastal and northern British Columbians are very worried about what oil tankers could mean to the ecosphere and the economy of these areas.  It only takes a minor spill to make a major disaster.”