Liberals introduce oil-tanker ban for north coast and Haida Gwaii

Liberals introduce oil-tanker ban for north coast and Haida Gwaii

New bill would ban most tankers carrying crude or ‘persistent’ oil, but not LNG or gasoline.

Canada’s transport minister introduced a law today that would ban most oil tankers from the north coast and Haida Gwaii.

The proposed bill would ban any tankers that carry over 12,500 metric tons of crude or persistent oil from stopping or unloading anywhere near Haida Gwaii or along the B.C. coast between Alaska and the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

Anyone who defies the ban could face fines of up to $5 million.

Transportation Minister Marc Garneau says the bill makes good on a campaign promise made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015.

“It’s one of the last major temperate rainforests on Earth,” said Garneau, when asked why the bill seeks to protect the north coast in particular.

“It’s an extremely important ecosystem.”

Besides crude oil, the ban applies to a list of 14 ‘persistent’ oils, such as various bunker fuels, synthetic crude, slack wax, and partially upgraded bitumen.

“They tend to sink, and there’s no way to remove them unless you do it manually,” said Garneau.

“We’re very concerned about those kinds in particular, because of their effect on the environment.”

If science later shows that more types of oil should be added to the ‘persistent’ list, Garneau said the bill allows for it.

Likewise, he said oils could be removed from the list if new technology allows for their safe clean-up.

“We did this according to the best science available,” he said.

The law does not ban bulk shipping of refined fuels that break up or evaporate in case of a spill, such as gasoline, jet fuel, or liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Also, the proposed law exempts tankers that carry less than 12,500 metric tons of crude or persistent oil as cargo — an exemption intended to allow critical shipment of fuels, home-heating oil, and other goods to coastal communities and industries.

Asked why the bill does not ban tankers from simply passing through Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait, or Queen Charlotte Sound, Garneau said such passage is allowed by international law, but it has effectively stopped under a voluntary tanker exclusion zone that the U.S. and Canada agreed some 30 years ago.

“That has been respected since 1985, and we still intend to keep that voluntary exclusion zone in place,” he said.

Garneau made nine trips to B.C. to consult on the bill, including a meeting with Haida Nation President Peter Lantin and other leaders of coastal First Nations.

“There was a range of advice, and a range of opinions,” he said.

“It was not 100 per cent, everybody unanimous about any particular position.”

Garneau noted that besides the tanker ban, the Trudeau government’s $1.5-billion oceans protection plan will boost marine safety for the existing marine traffic around Haida Gwaii — a boost that is clearly needed given incidents such as the near running-aground of the disabled Russian cargo ship Simushir on the Haida Gwaii coast three years ago.

Patrick Kelly, board chair of Coastal First Nations, said today in a press release that while First Nations leaders have yet to review the proposed bill in detail, it appears to address most concerns.

“We fought hard against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project,” said Kelly.

“This law puts to an end any future oil pipeline and tanker project in our territories.”

Local NDP MP Nathan Cullen also said that at first glance, he’s optimistic about the new bill.

“In some ways, this is the home stretch of a 40-year campaign for people in the northwest, and right across British Columbia,” said Cullen, the MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, noting that proposed Liberal bill is similar to a private member’s bill he brought forward.

“It’s taken longer than I would have liked.”

Cullen said he looks forward to hearing expert testimony about the proposed bill, including testimony from people who live on the coast and Haida Gwaii.

While also broadly supportive, groups such as West Coast Environmental Law have called for a smaller local-shipments exemption that would only allow tankers carrying 2,000, rather than 12,500 metric tons of fuel. Others have questioned whether the western boundary of the voluntary exclusion zone is far enough from the Haida Gwaii coast.

Cullen said such issues are worth looking at in detail, along with the transit of oil barges smaller than 12,500 metric tons between Alaska and Washington State.

“I think the recent sinking and various close calls we’ve had on bulk transports will call into question any exemptions,” he said, noting that a tug boat which recently sank near Bella Bella spilled 100,000 litres of diesel even though the relatively small oil barge it was towing was empty.

“Sometimes it’s not the infrequent and very large, but the smaller and very frequent things that cause you the highest risk,” he said.

 

Liberals introduce oil-tanker ban for north coast and Haida Gwaii

Just Posted

Visitors to a pop-up temporary aquarium in Prince Rupert will have the chance to see marine ecology from July 21 to Aug. 15, like this viewer watching sea anemones at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert pop-up aquarium will bring sea level to eye level in July

A permanent peak to reef ecology centre is in the planning stages by North Coast Ecology Society

Prince Rupert’s Ellen Wright and Graeme Dickens jam out during filming the two Ring System Studio concerts to be broadcast on television during June. (Photo: supplied, H. Cox)
Ring System Studio sounds on television

Two concerts by the Prince Rupert music school will be broadcast in June

Commerical marijuana grow ops that are budding up in Prince Rupert’s downtown core are legal and out of the city’s jurisdiction, Mayor Lee Brain said, on June 14. (Photo:supplied/K-J Millar)
Prince Rupert downtown’s pretty dope

Marijuana operations grow in the Prince Rupert city core

Unionized longshore and port workers gather along Highway 16 on June 15 not crossing the picket line where Prince Rupert Solidarity Movement group protests the docking and unloading of the JPO Volans, a ship with Israeli designed technology and equipment. (Photo: K-J Millar/the Northern View)
Prince Rupert Solidarity Group pickets at port in protest

Demonstrations against the container ship JPO Volans lead into the second day to dissuade docking

BC Ferries has announced the welcoming back onboard of recreational travellers on June 15 after the provincial travel restrictions were lifted. (Courtesy of BC Ferries)
BC Ferries welcomes back recreational passengers

The ferries corp will relax mask-wearing in outdoor spaces

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read