Vancouver – After more than a year of hearings, the National Energy Board panel reviewing Enbridge’s oil tanker and pipeline proposal completed the community hearings phase of its review.
The final tally in the largest National Energy Board hearings in history was 1,159 speakers opposed to the proposal and two in favour.
Presenters, ranging from a retired World Bank economist and the former CEO of BC Hydro to coast-guard trained oil spill experts and reverends, urged the panel to protect BC’s tourism industry and the province’s existing coastal economy.
“The panel listened to presentations from everyday British Columbians in 16 towns and cities across our province. No matter where they visited, the message was clear: the risk of an oil spill on our coast is too great,” said Emma Gilchrist, communications director for Dogwood Initiative. “However, as many presenters noted, the panel will not be making the final decision on this project.”
In 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper changed the law so Ottawa can overrule the joint review panel’s recommendations.
“This is going to be a political decision whether we like it or not,” Gilchrist said. “Now it’s just a matter of whether British Columbians allow Ottawa to make this decision for us or if we elect a BC government on May 14 that will stand up for our coast.”
On February 2, nearly 100 volunteers attended Knock the Vote, a strategic canvass blitz organized by Dogwood Initiative and ForestEthics Advocacy in the provincial swing riding of Vancouver-Fairview, which was won by just 1,063 votes in the 2009 provincial election.
Volunteer-driven Knock the Vote events are expected to happen across the province in the run-up to the provincial election, applying pressure on all parties to oppose the expansion of oil tanker traffic on BC’s coast.
“Protecting BC’s coast from the threat of oil spills is sure to be one of the top voting issues in May’s election,” said Nikki Skuce, senior energy campaigner for ForestEthics Advocacy. “The strong majority of British Columbians oppose an increase to oil tanker traffic on BC’s coast.”