BC Government releases conditions for Enbridge Pipeline

Dispute with Albertan government ensues

By Natalie Serafini, Staff Writer

Last week, Premier  Christy Clark announced the BC government’s proposal to establish a “fair share” of the Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Project benefits before agreeing to and supporting any new pipeline projects. The current conditions whereby BC would receive eight per cent of the pipeline revenue while assuming 100 per cent of the marine risk and 58 per cent of the land-based risk for the pipeline will be the focus of negotiations.

Environment Minister Terry Lake announced that the BC government is “outlining five requirements that must be addressed before our government will consider supporting any new heavy oil pipeline proposal in British Columbia.”

These five requirements to be addressed include:

1)   Completing the environmental review process. This will mean a recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel.

2)   Deploying world-leading practices for land oil-spill response, prevention and recovery systems for BC’s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines and shipments.

3)   Using world-leading practices for land oil-spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines.

4)   Addressing legal requirements regarding aboriginal and treaty rights, and ensuring First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project.

5)   Ensuring British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.

Clark has voiced her approval of these conditions, stating that “our government is committed to economic development that is balanced with environmental protection.” Clark asserts that without compensation for the province there will be no pipeline construction across the interior.

The conditions will be hurdles for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, which has been promoted by Prime Minister Harper’s government.

Others have asserted their objections to BC requirements. Alberta Premier Alison Redford issued a statement following the announcement of these conditions. She states, “Every Canadian, no matter what province they call home, expects that energy development is done with a high degree of environmental safeguards. This is why a rigorous environmental review is underway by the National Energy Board. It is why the company involved has committed an additional $500 million for increased monitoring and safety measures. These efforts, combined with the fact that pipelines are still by far the safest means by which to transport oil, significantly mitigate the environmental risk and weaken the BC government’s argument for compensation based on potential risk.”

Redford says she is willing to discuss with Clark ways for BC to receive more revenue through “linear assessment” or right-of-way taxes, but that she’s not ready to negotiate with BC.

Meanwhile, Aboriginal groups are considering court action and environmental groups say BC’s conditions are inadequate.

Greenpeace Canada spokesperson Keith Stewart states, “We’re really hoping the BC government will stand up for the coastline, stand up for BC—but they’re not there yet.”