BC local governments call on National Energy Board to consult public on Vancouver Harbour oil tankers

VANCOUVER (Coast Salish Territories, BC) – An emergency resolution was passed by the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) on Friday stating that “local governments were not actively consulted regarding Kinder Morgan’s historic or planned expansion of oil tanker traffic”.

Kinder Morgan has plans to dramatically increase the size and frequency of oil tanker traffic through Burrard Inlet, the Gulf Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The resolution calls on the National Energy Board (NEB) to conduct “meaningful public consultations, including direct engagement with affected municipalities, regional authorities and BC First Nations in regards to any application to expand the amount of oil transported by pipeline and tanker.”

“Our local governments have been denied meaningful consultation on oil tankers by the NEB,” said Eric Swanson, No Tankers Campaign Director for the Dogwood Initiative. “We were glad local leaders stood up to the NEB and passed this resolution.”  “

Oil exports via tanker through the Westridge terminal in Burrard Inlet have increased from an average of 25,000 barrels a day to 80,000 barrels a day in the last five years. In July, 2011 the National Energy Board denied requests to hold consultations with local governments and residents on this topic. 

The UBCM resolution also states that “sixty one of BC’s First Nations have signed the ‘Save the Fraser’ declaration prohibiting oil pipeline and tanker traffic expansion through their lands, territories and watersheds, or ocean migration routes of Fraser River salmon,” which includes the south coast waters of BC.

“It is a remarkable thing that BC’s local governments, en masse, have said that the First Nations ban on oil tankers on the south coast is a reason why cities and towns need to act,” said Josh Paterson, staff Lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law. “The Save the Fraser Declaration is a decision to ban oil pipelines and tankers in the Fraser watershed, based in 61 First Nations’ own laws. The obligation of governments to respect First Nations’ decisions is recognized in international law, and it’s encouraging to see that local governments across BC take this seriously,” said Paterson.

“The very public fights against the Enbridge pipeline up north and the Keystone Pipeline in the US are increasing the pressure to quietly export more oil through Vancouver Harbour,” said Ben West, Healthy Communities Campaigner for the Wilderness Committee. “But this resolution should put everyone on notice that the people of BC want to have the final say when it comes to determining what constitutes an acceptable risk to our coast,” said West.

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