BC Groups Praise Decision to Fast-Track Oil Tanker Ban Legislation

Dogwood Initiative, Forest Ethics, West Coast Environmental Law Association, Living Oceans Society

VICTORIA – Vancouver Liberal Member of Parliament Joyce Murray announced this morning that she is prioritizing Bill C-606, a bill to permanently ban oil supertankers from BC’s north coast, including Hecate Straight, Dixon Entrance, and Queen Charlotte Sound. If passed, the oil tanker ban would preclude Enbridge Inc’s ‘Northern Gateway’ pipeline and supertanker proposal to Kitimat, BC.

“A ban on oil tankers would protect BC’s north coast from catastrophic spills,” said Eric Swanson of Dogwood Initiative. “Ms. Murray’s bill is good policy because it defends coastal communities, economies, and environments all at once. It’s good politics because British Columbians want it.”

 “We’re hoping that all MPs from British Columbia get behind this bill,” says Nikki Skuce of ForestEthics. “Polling shows grassroots support for an oil tanker ban remains consistent across party lines. If a federal election is called soon, I see this as a ballot-box issue.”

In a vote on a non-binding NDP motion supporting this same type of oil tanker ban in December 2010, all three federal opposition parties voted for the motion while the government voted against.

Federal Transport Minister Chuck Strahl, Indian and Northern Affairs Minister John Duncan, and MP Gary Lunn have suggested that a decision over north coast oil tankers should be contingent on a federal regulatory process; a process in which no British Columbians are decision-makers.

 “Banning tankers on the coast is a decision for Parliament to make,” said Josh Paterson of West Coast Environmental Law Association. “We don’t need to wait and see what appointed regulators for the Enbridge project decide. This is a huge issue that will affect generations of Canadians – and our elected representatives need to act now to protect the coast.”

Bill C-606 has several steps to go through before it can become law. It must go through two votes in the House of Commons, committee hearings, and the Senate. Ms. Murray’s decision this morning assures that the bill begins to move through this process as quickly as possible.

“We’ll have to wait to see if BC’s Conservative MPs are given room to represent their constituents on this,” says Katie Terhune from Living Oceans Society. “Each vote on Bill C-606, and each committee hearing, will be a test.”

Bill C-606 can be seen here: http://www2.parl.gc.ca/content/hoc/Bills/403/Private/C-606/C-606_1/C-606_1.PDF

Contact:
Eric Swanson – 250-858-9990, Director, Dogwood Initiative
Nikki Skuce – 250-877-7762, Senior Energy Campaigner, Forest Ethics
Josh Paterson – 604-601-2512, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law
Katie Terhune – -250-973-6580, Energy Campaigner, Living Oceans Society

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