The province of BC says it cannot support the Northern Gateway pipeline project as it’s been presented to the review panel because it does not address British Columbians’ environmental concerns.
That conclusion comes in the BC government’s final written submission to the Joint Review Panel that has been holding hearings into the proposal.
“British Columbia thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence and submissions made to the panel and asked substantive questions about the project including its route, spill response capacity and financial structure to handle any incidents,” says Environment Minister Terry Lake. “Our questions were not satisfactorily answered during these hearings.”
“Northern Gateway has said that they would provide effective spill response in all cases. However, they have presented little evidence as to how they will respond,” says Lake. “For that reason, our government cannot support the issuance of a certificate for the pipeline as it was presented to the Joint Review Panel.”
The environment is among the five conditions Premier Christy Clark has given to pipeline proposals.
Ben West of Forest Ethics says it’s a critical moment. “There’s a lot of pressure now on the Joint Review Panel to outright reject the pipeline, and even if they do not do so, there’s a lot of things our premier can do to ensure the pipeline isn’t built.”
Another environmental group — the Wilderness Committee — says the news isn’t as significant as it might first appear, since the federal government still has final say.
“Resource development will not proceed unless it is safe for Canadians and safe for the environment. That is why, for our part, we are moving forward with our plans to further enhance marine and pipeline safety and to engage with First Nations on west coast energy infrastructure,” says federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver.
“We are working hard to meet the conditions and earn the confidence of the government and the people of BC,” says Janet Holder, Executive Vice President of Western Access with Northern Gateway.