BC oil tanker traffic a ‘slap in the face’ to First Nations

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Vancouver – The National Energy Board approved an increase in tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet by 25,000 barrels a day. This came on the same day that First Nations declared a ban on tar sands oil exports through their lands and coastal waters at a historic ceremony on the one year anniversary of the Save the Fraser Declaration. The anniversary was also marked at a packed event last night attended by 500 people at Vancouver’s Rio Theatre.

One hundred and thirty indigenous bands have now signed the Save the Fraser Declaration which, using their laws under their sovereign rights, bans tar sands oil exports through their territory. “Yesterday’s decision to allow increased tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet is a slap in the face of the First Nations people in this province and to the vast majority of the general public who do not support oil exports through BC,” said Ben West, Healthy Communities Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee.

British Columbians are overwhelmingly opposed to oil tankers off the coast and increased oil moving through pipelines across BC. A 2008 poll conducted regarding the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and associated tanker traffic showed 80 percent of the population oppose oil tankers off the coast. This year a poll of Metro Vancouver residents was conducted, showing that only 31 percent supported pipeline expansion.

“This whole process has been fundamentally undemocratic and clearly violates the wishes of the indigenous people whose unceded land it impacts,” said West. “Since Kinder Morgan bought the Trans Mountain Pipeline they have been actively transforming the Burrard Inlet into an export facility instead of us simply servicing local consumption. This never should have been allowed to happen without the consent of the First Nations people and the people of BC”.

Kinder Morgan has stated publicly that next they intend to expand their pipeline capacity from 300,000 barrels a day to 700,000 barrels a day which would result in an increase to 280 tankers a year in the Inlet. Before Kinder Morgan bought the pipeline there was 20 crude oil tankers in the Inlet in 2005. Last year there were 79 tankers in Burrard Inlet. The current decision shifts how much of the oil traveling through the pipeline is used for export, as opposed to other local uses, which will mean increases to tanker traffic of at least another 10 tankers a year.

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