Cullen calls for regional energy strategy as blueprint for national plan

MP Nathan Cullen is calling for the creation of a national energy strategy as more and more companies turn their eyes to the north coast.

  • Jun. 30, 2013 12:00 p.m.

Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is calling for the creation of a national energy strategy as more and more companies turn their eyes to the north coast for exporting Canadian energy.

However, he said the best place to start such a conversation is in the riding that will be most impacted.

“We need to develop our own energy strategy based on our own values, and I believe that will resonate with the rest of Canada.  The Prime Minister and the Premier are really off the playing field and off the radar,” he said.

“There is no vision from the provincial or federal government. If I was a betting man, if there were 10 projects in front of them they would rubber stamp them all. They are not going to try and stop development in any way … I don’t think 10 projects in the area is possible and I don’t think 10 is a good idea.”

One of the pillars of any energy strategy would be Canadian oil, which is currently proposed to come to the Northwest through either pipeline or rail. When it comes to Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway, Cullen said it is essentially a non-issue.

“People don’t want to talk to me about Enbridge any more, they see it as a done deal,” he said of the many protests and opposition from municipal governments and First Nations groups.

“The benefit of Enbridge is that it really brought people together and got all of us to work together.”

As for oil-by-rail, an idea proposed by Nexen Energy in February and raised again by Kitimat Clean Ltd. president David Black, Cullen said although the track infrastructure is in place and CN currently carries oil to the east coast and the U.S., an environmental assessment would still be needed.

“To move that volume of product over a line that is not designed for it, you would need an impact assessment to ensure you are not heading for disaster … the tracks are right beside the risk, they run right beside many of the rivers in the region,” he said, noting CN should welcome such a study.

“If it really is a good idea you shouldn’t be afraid of an assessment. If it is a solid, safe project, you should have nothing to hide … if the selling point is that it can be done without an assessment, that is not a good one for people in the northwest. It raises a lot of flags.”

Mark Hallman of CN said the company would not comment on “speculative” operations.