Companies’ push for supertankers unpopular with British Columbians

Victoria – Energy companies pushing for a tanker port on the BC’s coast are in for strong opposition according to a Synovate poll released today by a coalition of environmental groups. The poll found seven in ten British Columbians (72%) support a ban on oil tankers in British Columbia’s inside coastal waters. The poll’s margin of error is 4.4% 19 times out of 20. Environmental groups are advocating for federal legislation banning oil tankers along the waters of the newly created Great Bear Rainforest Conservation Area.

The poll’s release coincides with a renewed push from pipeline giants to open up BC’s inside coastal waters to tanker traffic. Enbridge and Kinder Morgan, two of the industry’s largest players, have recently revived proposals to bring oil to the BC Coast from the tar sands by pipeline and then ship it to Asian markets by supertankers. If all the proposed projects go ahead, more than 300 tankers would travel through coastal waters each year.

Support for a ban climbs to nearly eight in ten (79%) for people on Vancouver Island and the Coast. “The ocean is a vital part of the identity of people who live on the coast; I’m not surprised that people are keen to protect it.” said Greg Gowe from West Coast Environmental Law, one of the groups that that commissioned the poll.

The poll showed that support for a tanker ban cuts across political boundaries. “Two thirds of Provincial Liberal and Federal Conservative voters support a tanker ban. We hope both the BC and federal governments will listen to their constituents and change their ways.” stated Charles Campbell, a spokesperson for Dogwood Initiative.

Environmentalists, First Nations, and local stakeholders oppose the projects, contending that the risk to the economy and culture of the coast from a catastrophic oil spill is just too high. Proposed tanker routes pass through whale migratory routes and feeding grounds, the habitat of over 20 endangered species, by 650 salmon spawning rivers and would threaten the $1.7 billion coastal fishery.

“It is the richest companies on earth that will benefit from allowing tankers while placing northern communities at great risk.  The Exxon Valdez disaster proved that communities end up paying for accidents, not the oil industry” Commented Bruce Hill of the Headwaters Initiative, a Terrace based citizen’s group.

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