BC Party Positions on Oil Tankers

BC Liberals

Summary: The BC Liberals have rejected Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal and are withholding judgment on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion proposal.

In Detail: The BC Liberals have ‘five conditions’ upon which they individually assess each heavy oil pipeline and tanker proposal. You can read more about the five conditions in the government’s news release or in the accompanying technical document. Overall, the BC Liberals’ conditions are a set of relatively vague guidelines that leave plenty of room to either support or reject each project.

As part of the formal federal Joint Review Panel process the BC Liberal government has submitted a final argument in which they reject Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal “as presented”, largely because Enbridge failed to show how they would adequately deal with oil spills. You can read the government’s news release, or their full technical submission for more details.

Given the Enbridge example, we likely can’t expect a clear opinion from the BC Liberals on Kinder Morgan until late in the review process for that project, e.g. into 2014 or 2015.

Former BC Liberal Environment Minister Terry Lake has suggested that there is still a “pathway to yes” for Enbridge. However, since the public hearings are now over, any changes Enbridge might make to their proposal would presumably be evaluated behind closed doors – untested by cross examination or expert witnesses. After the backlash over the HST, we’re not expecting the BC Liberals would make backroom changes to their position on such a controversial proposal.

More on Process: It’s important to note that the BC Liberals are maintaining an ‘equivalency agreement’ in which BC gives up its right to conduct a BC environmental assessment of these proposals. So BC’s authority over Enbridge and Kinder Morgan’s plans is exercised by other means: (a) sheer political influence on the federal government and (b) through the various provincial permits that must be granted under the province’s land, water and forests laws.

BC NDP

Summary: The BC NDP have three policy positions which together reject the idea of significantly expanding crude oil tanker traffic anywhere on B.C.’s coast. In Detail: First, the BC NDP have specifically rejected Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal. Their position was outlined in a detailed letter to the National Energy Board, submitted in the spring of 2012 and signed by all NDP MLAs at the time.

Second, the BC NDP’s 2013 platform states they are in favor of maintaining the perceived moratorium on coastal exploration, drilling and oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s north coast (everything north of Vancouver Island and south of Alaska). This position rejects the idea of bringing crude oil tanker traffic through this area from any proposal, including Enbridge’s Northern Gateway.

Third, during the 2013 BC Election the NDP announced that they cannot support any proposal that would turn Port Metro Vancouver into a major oil tanker export port, and this position was clarified to encompass the south coast region, generally.

More on Process: The NDP are in favor of cancelling the ‘equivalency’ agreement that was signed with the federal government, and re-establishing what they have called a ‘Made in BC’ review process for these projects.

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