Shortly before we went to press on Monday the provincial government finally released a bit of information related to what would be required for them to consider allowing the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, or any other oil pipeline project, to be constructed in the province.
The information is online at thenorthernview.com and will likely be in the Connector, but the five key points are
– The successful completion of an environmental assessment
– World-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems
– 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
– 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
While the government stopped short of saying whether of not they support the development of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, I don’t see how they could support it using the above five points as a mandate for that decision.
The successful completion of the environmental assessment is pending, and I am certainly not one to comment on or question the “world leading” nature of Enbridge’s planned response – I’ll leave that to the experts. Frankly, it’s the last two points that I see as sticking points when it comes to what the province is looking for to support or not support the project.
Has Enbridge provided First Nations with opportunities and information to participate and benefit from the pipeline? Absolutely. Have many of the First Nations west of Prince George supported it? Nope. And when it comes to the territory of the Gitxsan and the Haida, they’ve made it clear they want nothing to do with the pipeline or the tankers. Strike one.
The second is the economic benefit that reflect the level of risk associated with the pipeline. It is entirely possible the pipeline is built and never leaks or a tanker never spills. But should one of those two things happen, which is a risk, the value and economic impact would be monumental in terms of tourism, fishing and clean-up. I just don’t see the money being there to balance that out.