What are we doing to protect the coast from Trans Mountain?

Mar 6, 2019 | 41-4, Blog, Governance, Question Period, Video | 2 comments

The National Energy Board (NEB) just wrapped up the reconsideration hearing on the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project.

Frankly, the latest hearing is just as bad as the first one, and with the same result. They recommend that the federal government approve the project.

The reconsideration was necessary after a federal Court quashed the NEB recommendation and federal government decision to proceed with the project.

My riding, Saanich North and the Islands is the most threatened from a spill of diluted bitumen. Turn Point, where ships transit from Boundary Pass to Haro Strait, is identified as the most dangerous part of the shipping in the Salish Sea.

The BCNDP government promised to use all the tools in their tool box to stop the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project.

I asked the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy what his government is doing to protect the coast and coastal communities.

Further, we cannot trust that the federal government is looking out for the interest of our communities. Before the NEB even had a chance to get more evidence the Prime Minister was stating publicly that he is going to build the pipeline.

So, I asked the Minister whether he is considering a made-in-British Columbia environmental assessment process.


A. Olsen:

Today I wear this forget-me-not in memory of my late grandmother Phyllis Snobelen.
This weekend I was on Pender Island. On the sunniest weekend so far, about 100 Pender Islanders gathered to discuss the National Energy Board approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline project.

The game changer in this reconsideration hearing is the NEB finally admitting that the pipeline project will result in significant adverse impacts on the orcas and their cultural relationship with Indigenous people, increased greenhouse gas emissions and the potential threat of a diluted bitumen spill in the Salish Sea.

I have constituents on all sides of this issue. The NEB’s hearing, frankly, has let us all down. This is about trust in government — trust that government is putting the public interest in safe communities, healthy environments and robust economics first.

As the Environment Minister rightly pointed out, the NEB did not add any binding conditions to their approval, making their conditions almost meaningless. The B.C. government has opposed this development and has promised to use every tool available to halt its progress. My question is to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. What further steps is his government going to take to protect B.C.’s coast?

Hon. G. Heyman:

I thank the member for the question. I know that the member, the member’s party, our caucus and thousands of British Columbians share a deep concern about the potential impacts of a diluted bitumen spill, whether it’s on land or whether it’s from tankers in the ocean, and remain opposed to this project. We share that view.

We share the view of the member’s constituents who have concern. That’s why, hon. Speaker, we have continued consistently to oppose this project, to say it’s bad for British Columbia. That’s why we made submissions to the National Energy Board hearings that focused on the complete inadequacy of the proponent — and now the federal government as the proponent — to demonstrate that they had either the capacity or the plans to respond effectively to a diluted bitumen spill.

We made a presentation to the National Energy Board and said that the project should be rejected for that reason, as well as other reasons that the member has raised. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that British Columbians’ interests, the environment, the coast and tens of thousands of jobs are protected.

Mr. Speaker:

Saanich North and the Islands on a supplemental.

A. Olsen:

As the representative of Saanich North and the Islands, I represent the geographical heart of the Salish Sea. It’s a vibrant, culturally diverse, environmentally sensitive and economic powerhouse in our region. The most dangerous part of the marine shipping route in the Salish Sea is the 90-degree turn at Boundary Pass in Haro Strait. The result is that my riding, Pender Island, all of the southern Gulf Islands and the Saanich Peninsula are the most vulnerable to an oil spill.

This NEB reconsideration hearing, frankly, was a sham from the beginning. The Prime Minister said that this new review — before this new review had even started: “The pipeline will be built.” He had already decided the outcome.

B.C. needs to be in control of our own environmental assessment that is objective and evidence-based. It’s time to pull out of the equivalency agreement that we signed on to.

Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. Will his government stand up for our coast? Will his government pull out of the equivalency agreement and conduct our own environmental assessment of the Trans Mountain pipeline?

Hon. G. Heyman:

Thank you, again, to the member for the question and for pointing out some of the great difficulties that British Columbians have with seeing the recent review by the National Energy Board as being transparent, as being responsive to the very real concerns of British Columbians.

I share the member’s frustration. I share the frustration of the member’s constituents. But the fact remains that the Federal Court of Appeal asked the National Energy Board and the federal government to do additional studies. It did not strike down either the B.C. environmental assessment certificate that was granted under the previous government or parts of the existing National Energy Board certificate that were granted.

Therefore, that certificate stands with its conditions. What we have done…. And I should point out that the equivalency agreement is essentially moot, because it only applies to future National Energy Board reviews of which there will be none. But we have introduced regulations to ensure that we can protect B.C.’s environment from an oil spill — recovery plans, response plans. We have other regulations that we’re about to announce.

We have taken a reference case to the B.C. Court of Appeal to ensure, and to assure British Columbians, that we are exercising every inch of our jurisdiction to protect jobs, the coast and the environment, unlike the members opposite.

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  1. Eric Pittman

    Thanks for keeping it in the fore-front, Adam. It would be great if there were actually technology to clean up a spill, but unless something miraculous occurred since the largest oil spill in Newfoundland remained untouched by human hands a few months ago, I doubt there has been any change except the evolution of the language of spin. They will have some really great words to say when an uncontrollable spill hits our shores.

  2. Joe, A 12 for Transit

    To this Washingtonian from Skagit County, I strongly support pipelines since the alternative forced down our throats is much more dangerous oil trains.

    I also support making clear our coasts need protections from not just the additional tanker a day in Vancouver Harbour, but also all the tankers going into March Point and all the other places in the Salish Sea & Puget Sound. One oil spill could be the end of so much we hold dear.


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