B.C.’s only Green MLA doesn’t think that a new oil refinery on the West Coast is a bad idea.
To the contrary, Andrew Weaver is convinced that the brainchild of newspaper publisher David Black makes sense.
“Do I think David Black’s proposal has merit? I do. I think it’s being proposed for the right reasons,” Weaver told the Straight in a phone interview.
Black is a constituent of Weaver’s in Oak Bay–Gordon Head; the media baron has been promoting a $25-billion plan to refine Alberta’s crude oil in Kitimat. Weaver is one of seven UVic professors and adjunct professors who were among the international cowinners of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize that recognized efforts to understand and counteract climate change caused by human activities such as the burning of oil and other fossil fuels.
According to the climate scientist, Black’s plan will keep diluted bitumen from being shipped through B.C. waters.
“That’s important right now because we are already shipping diluted bitumen out of Burnaby,” he said, referring to the Westridge Marine Terminal at the end of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. A joint federal government report dated November 30, 2013, notes that there is little available knowledge of how to deal with ocean spills of diluted bitumen, a sludgy material that could either sink or float as “tarballs”.
Weaver suggests processing bitumen into a lighter form called “synthetic crude” before the resource is piped from Alberta to the B.C. coast. “But then you still want to keep the upgraded products out of the water, so then you would refine that as well,” he said.
Weaver said that the B.C. Green Party is “not opposed to oil” because being anti-oil means disagreeing with “everything around us”.
“We’ve always said we’d like to see a transition as quickly as possible away from fossil-fuel dependence to renewable forms, and if we can use some of the wealth of today to assist us in that transition rapidly, so much the better,” he said.
Premier Christy Clark has pledged to support a new oil-refinery project.