Nathan Cullen calls out Conservative green-washing of pipeline safety
March 18th, 2013 - 4:46pm
OTTAWA – Nathan Cullen criticized Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and Transport Minister Denis Lebel’s announcement of new oil spill response measures in Vancouver on Monday, calling it “an exercise in green-washing.” The ministers described steps towards establishing a “world class” oil spill prevention and response regime, which Cullen called another attempt to distract from the real and serious environmental, social and economic threat the Northern Gateway pipeline poses to British Columbia.
The government’s announcement that it will take new steps to increase inspections and aerial surveillance of tankers does not come close to addressing the real concerns that British Columbians and Canadians have about oil spills on the majestic BC coast, said Cullen.
“I think concerned citizens will look at these proposals and, like we have, conclude they’re half-measures,” said Cullen. “People have credible fears about the project,” noting a recent study from the University of British Columbia which pegged the potential costs of a major oil spill on BC’s north coast at $9.6 billion, and the fact that Northern Gateway hasn’t provided convincing real-world evidence that their primary spill response mechanisms – booms, skimmers and dispersants – will be able to work along the BC coast. Cullen also pointed to calculations by a 25-year veteran in the oil spill response industry, which used Enbridge’s own research to show a 8.7% to 14.1% chance of a major oil spill in the project’s first fifty years.
“The risks are enormous, and the consequences of a spill would be devastating,” Cullen noted. “But the prime minister and his cabinet appear to have already made up their minds about the project, so rather than actually listen and respond to the concerns of British Columbians, they’ll resort to half-measures and playing the public relations game.
“Since they came to a majority, the government has taken every opportunity to undermine our environmental assessment process, muzzle scientists, and slash protections for our lakes and rivers. And now they’re realizing they’ve axed their own credibility on the environment and public engagement. If the government were serious about convincing the public that this is a safe project, they’d take the time to sit down with the communities and address the big picture facts about this project, instead of going for the low-hanging fruit like they’ve done today.”