MP proposes bill to ban oil tankers on the North Coast, encourage refineries

Skeena — Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is putting forward a bill in Parliament that would ban crude oil tankers on the North Coast.

Skeena — Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is putting forward a bill in Parliament that would ban crude oil tankers on the North Coast.

The specifics of the bill have yet to be released, as it has not gone before the House of Commons, but it would ban tankers carrying unrefined products on the coast and give greater weight to public input on projects being considered by the National Energy Board.

The inspiration for the bill has come from all of the trouble … around the Northern Gateway Pipeline,” said Cullen.

“Right now the legislation that guides the National Energy Board allows them to have public hearings but doesn’t implore the regulator to actually do anything about it,” he said.

“We saw this in Northern Gateway.”

He says the ban on super tankers would be putting in to a law a motion he put forward in 2010. In terms of support, he thinks he has about half of the MPs on his side.

“I think it’s 50/50 right now which doesn’t sound incredibly high but … getting Conservatives to vote for anything the Prime Minister doesn’t want them to is always an uphill battle,” he said.

“I think I’ve got a fair chance at least having a conversation with those MPs.”

Enbridge Northern Gateway spokesperson Ivan Giesbrecht said the company would not be impacted as the decisions on what products to ship is beyond the scope of their business as an energy transporter.

“Market decisions on oil refining are beyond the scope of our business. Northern Gateway’s role is connecting supply with demand safely and responsibly. We do not make the decisions on what product is transported, or where it is marketed,” he said.

“There is tremendous demand in overseas markets for Canadian oil and Northern Gateway provides access to those markets so that we may see full value for our resource. That is good for all Canadians. Northern Gateway provides our customers an option should a refinery be built in Kitimat. Northern Gateway could also ship upgraded oil from Alberta.  Northern Gateway could also ship a variety of refined products. The bottom line is Northern Gateway provides options

— but it is important to note that in all cases, a pipeline is still required.”

Meanwhile the proponent of an oil refinery in the Kitimat Valley, David Black (also the chairman of Black Press, which owns this newspaper), said this bill is exactly what’s needed.

“On this particular point I think they’ve got the right idea,” he said.

“As you know I got onboard with this project because I didn’t want to see [diluted] bitumen put in tankers. One little mistake at sea and we could destroy our coast for a long time, and the fishery.”

Whether it’s passed or not, Black said the bill will be good for sparking a conversation about energy transportation.

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