The B.C. government has rejected the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline. In their final written submission to the National Energy Board Joint Review panel, the provincial government indicated it won’t support the project “as presented to the panel.”
In a May 31 media release, environment minister Terry Lake said the project didn’t meet the province’s ‘five conditions’.
“British Columbia thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence and submissions made to the panel and asked substantive questions about the project including its route, spill response capacity and financial structure to handle any incidents,” Lake said in a statement. “Our questions were not satisfactorily answered during these hearings.”
Lake said the province had considered evidence presented to the Joint Review Panel. “The panel must determine if it is appropriate to grant a certificate for the project as currently proposed on the basis of a promise to do more study and planning after the certificate is granted. Our government does not believe that a certificate should be granted before these important questions are answered,” he said.
Lake said the province rejected Enbridge’s spill response plans because they are insufficient.
“Northern Gateway has said that they would provide effective spill response in all cases. However, they have presented little evidence as to how they will respond,” Lake said. “For that reason, our government cannot support the issuance of a certificate for the pipeline as it was presented to the Joint Review Panel.”
He said the decision is not a rejection of heavy oil pipeline projects, and that the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion and the Kitimat Clean project would be judged on their own merits.
(Disclosure: Kitimat Clean refinery proponent David Black is the owner of Black Press, which owns the Revelstoke Times Review.)
The provincial government is due to present oral arguments to the panel in June.
Lake reiterated the province’s ‘five conditions’ for pipeline approval first espoused by premier Christy Clark in 2012. They are:
- Successful completion of the environmental review process. In the case of Northern Gateway, that would mean a recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel that the project proceed;
- World-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B.C.’s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy-oil pipelines and shipments;
- World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy-oil pipelines;
- Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed, and First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project; and
- British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy-oil project that reflect the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.
In October of 2012, Revelstoke residents rallied to oppose the pipeline proposal.