Don Davies, the NDP MP for Vancouver Kingsway, has drafted legislation to enshrine in law the federal moratorium that prohibits oil tankers from plying British Columbia’s coastal waters.
“Oil tankers in our coastal waters pose a grave threat to our environment and sensitive ecosystems,” Davies said in a statement e-mailed today (February 5) to the Straight. “The risk of oil spills and damage to our marine mammals is unacceptable.”
In this week’s Straight cover story, Andrew Findlay reports on a proposed oil pipeline that would link northern Alberta’s oil fields with the port at Kitimat on B.C.’s central coast.
As Findlay notes, “over the past two years there has been furious debate about the validity of an ambiguous federal government statement dating back to the early 1970s that refers to a moratorium on oil-tanker traffic along the B.C. coast”.
Davies’s private member’s bill—titled “An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (prohibition of oil tankers off the British Columbia Coast)”—has been sent to the House of Commons law clerk for a routine examination.
The MP hopes to introduce the bill in the House in the next two weeks.
“The particular coastal areas identified for potential tanker traffic run through very difficult navigation areas and one of the last acoustically quiet sanctuaries for whales,” Davies said in his statement. “British Columbians want to keep our coast areas protected and don’t want another Exxon Valdez spill. It would be far better and more intelligent to use this precious resource for eco-tourism—clean, sustainable and economically productive development.”