BC environmentalists applaud NDP for taking a stand on pipeline

Vancouver – Environmental groups are applauding the announcement made today by the provincial NDP, stating clearly that they will take back British Columbia’s right to hold its own environmental assessments of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, as well as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.

“The province of BC has the ability to stop these projects, and this announcement today shows us that the NDP is listening to the overwhelming chorus of voices speaking out against these tar sands export pipelines,” said Ben West, Healthy Communities Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee.

“Now the ball is in the Premier’s court,” added West. “She has talked about what conditions would need to be in place for these projects to go ahead, but she hasn’t clearly stated what she is willing to do to stop them.”

The BC Environmental Assessment process has seemed to many to be little more than a rubber stamp for projects proposed in the province. But BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix has made it clear that these pipeline reviews would follow a higher standard.

“If these environmental assessments are done right, they can help BC build its case against these projects going forward. And ultimately, the BC government can decide not to sign off and to stop these projects before it’s too late,” said West.

BC Premier Christy Clark unveiled five conditions that must be met before the Enbridge pipeline could be allowed to proceed, but she has not committed to taking back the province’s ability to conduct an independent environmental assessment. Since the Premier’s announcement in July, the conversation has turned to the level of economic benefit BC must receive in order to support the pipeline project.

In the BC NDP’s submission to the Joint Review Panel, the party states its opposition to the Enbridge pipeline for both environmental and economic reasons. The Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal is seen by some as a better alternative to Northern Gateway, yet many of the concerns raised about Enbridge also apply to the Kinder Morgan plan. The BC NDP made it clear today that they would also hold their own environmental assessment of the Kinder Morgan proposal when it is brought forward in late 2013.

“This isn’t a case of one pipeline proposal versus another. The question is, should BC be an export zone for tar sands oil? With this policy, it looks like the official opposition is willing to stand up and fight to protect our rivers, our coast and our local economy from these dangerous pipeline proposals,” said West.