Opposition Leader Adrian Dix says there is “no chance” that a B.C. NDP government will step aside from conducting a provincial environmental assessment of a proposed pipeline project by Kinder Morgan Canada.
The company’s plans to sharply increase oil shipments to the Lower Mainland has generated intense opposition from members of B.C.’s environmental movement.
In an interview at the Georgia Straight building, Dix said that Greater Vancouver residents have many questions about Kinder Morgan’s plan to twin its oil pipeline from Alberta to the Lower Mainland.
It would result in a capacity increase from 300,000 to 850,000 barrels per day and lead to more than 300 tanker shipments per year through Burrard Inlet.
“We have very serious concerns,” Dix stated.
However, he said that the B.C. NDP wants to see a formal application made before it will say if it supports or opposes the proposal.
“We’ll be having our own assessment of that project here in B.C.,” he declared.
Dix criticized the B.C. Liberal government for signing an agreement with the National Energy Board in 2010, which ensured that the federal government would perform the only environmental assessment of Enbridge’s proposed $6-billion pipeline project between Alberta and Kitimat.
That agreement allowed either party to cancel with 30-days notice.
Dix refused to say if an NDP government would exercise the cancellation clause and proceed with a provincial environmental assessment of Enbridge’s controversial Northern Gateway Project.
“It’s one of the clear options that’s in our hands to do,” he said.
The Straight clarified that it's an "option", at which point Dix said: “We have some of the best environmental and constitutional lawyers in the province volunteering their time to provide us with advice about what all the options are in terms of what we can do and how we can address this project, which we think is not in the economic and environmental interests of B.C. or Canada.”
Adrian Dix discusses the Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan pipeline proposals.
He added that he believes it was a “serious mistake” for the B.C. Liberal government not to provide evidence to the Joint Review Panel, which is a federal body created to evaluate Enbridge’s proposal.
“The B.C. government is in court right now trying to stop Coastal First Nations from seeing the evidence that the B.C. government itself has produced,” Dix stated. “I think this is an absurd situation.”
Dix recently visited several coastal communities, including Klemtu, Bella Bella, Hartley Bay, and Kitimat. He also went to Terrace.
He said that during this trip, he encountered widespread opposition to the Enbridge proposal from many people, including Native leaders, who claim it has the potential to destroy their economic livelihoods.
“First of all, the environmental assessment has a limited role in this process,” he noted. “And secondly, the federal cabinet is going to be making the decision.”
He claimed that the Joint Review Panel’s real role is to find ways to mitigate any damage from the pipeline rather than address the environmental questions posed by the application.
“So when the B.C. government says ‘Down the road, we may be able to deal with this,’ they’re not being straightforward,” Dix charged. “If we’re going to defend our environmental interests, we have to do it here in B.C.”
Here's a slick NDP video on the Enbridge proposal.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.