Liz McDowell and Wes Regan: Kinder Morgan pipeline project not worth risk to B.C. businesses

UBC report shows one oil spill could eliminate most benefits of Trans Mountain expansion

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      A major oil spill in Burrard Inlet could cost Vancouver’s economy $1.2 billion. This is one of the findings from a report released last Friday by UBC’s Fisheries Economics Research Unit. In the aftermath of last month’s fuel spill in English Bay, this report is alarming—we’ve seen that spills happen, and now we know that their impacts go beyond the clean-up costs or even the environmental impacts.

      The report assesses the economic losses of a spill in Burrard Inlet in May, and found that impacts to key industries like commercial fishing, port activities, and tourism would eliminate most of the (unverified) benefits the Trans Mountain expansion claims to bring.  Losses of 45 percent of output value, 138 percent of employment, and 40 percent of the contribution to GDP could be wiped out due to that one spill.

      The opposition to increased tanker traffic in our coastal waters is mounting, and it’s coming from more than just environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts. The City of Vancouver and the City of Burnaby have opposed Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project, and now other municipal leaders have joined in. On March 31, the mayors of New Westminster, North Vancouver, Vancouver, Victoria, Squamish, and Bowen Island all signed a declaration calling on the federal government to put Kinder Morgan’s proposal on hold until the National Energy Board (NEB) addresses the significant deficiencies in its public hearing and review process. Meanwhile, high profile NEB intervenors like Robyn Allen have pulled out of the process altogether, and more are likely to be on the way.

      Now’s the time for Premier Christy Clark to join this growing chorus of voices and formally oppose oil tanker expansion in our waters. One of the B.C. government’s conditions to support the proposed Kinder Morgan and Enbridge oil pipelines is a “world-class” spill response regime. In response to the Marathassa fuel spill, Premier Christy Clark has herself stated that  “we don’t have a world class spill response to look after the ships and the risks that are there now”, let alone under a five-fold expansion of tanker traffic.

      At the end of the day toxic spills are detrimental to our environment and also to our quality of life. Not only this, but they are detrimental to people’s perception of affected communities and areas: if people think that Vancouver’s beaches are polluted with oil, our waterfront economy will pay the price. We support Premier Clark acting to protect Metro Vancouver’s vital tourism sector—which employs more than 127,000 people. She needs to protect the thousands more jobs that are dependent on a healthy marine environment. That means putting B.C.’s businesses first and calling a halt to oil tanker expansion.  Thousands of long-term jobs are not worth risking for hundreds of temporary ones.       

      By opposing any increase in tanker traffic until we can demonstrate world class spill response, Premier Clark would be standing up for B.C.’s thriving economic sectors—including tourism, fishing, the booming tech sector, film and TV, agriculture, wineries and orchards, restaurants, and real estate. This is B.C.’s real economy—flourishing, diverse and creating thousands of new jobs every year—and it won’t benefit from expanded pipelines and tanker traffic. It’s become clear that moving forward on major pipeline projects will put B.C.’s businesses at risk. It’s just not worth it.



      Hal Carmichael

      May 27, 2015 at 2:51pm

      This is such a stupid argument!! Yes, a pipeline can leak at anytime anywhere but what really is the probability. When you evaluate risk, you study the impact and the probability. For example: the impact of a plane crashing in a heavily populated community would be devistating. Many people would die as a result. But do we go out an protest against Air Canada and Westjet because they could kill many innocent people. Of course we don't and that is because the probability of this happening so is low. You would get very good odds that another plane will crash somewhere in the world before another pipeline leaks any significant oil, and the oil probably won't kill anybody, it would just be very incovienient. So why is the low probability of a pipeline leaking any different? You can find many other examples of disasterous examples of things that mame and kill people but we don't give them a second thought, because the probabilities are low. Only uninformed people and those who who bury their head in the sand will refuse to draw a comparison.


      May 27, 2015 at 4:26pm

      keep the anti tanker information in Burrard Inlet active. There has to be more of it and the education about the spills otherwise NEB will just rubber stamp the process in favour of it.


      May 27, 2015 at 6:40pm

      Nothing will ever get built in this provence.Vancouver will be a city of office towers and vancouver island will be a large retirement home staffed by TFW's cleaning and cooking for them.If I was younger and learning a trade I would be moving out after getting my ticket.


      May 27, 2015 at 8:19pm

      HC: Thanks for pointing out why my head hurts. Being buried in the sand and such. A leak from a pipeline is not just a slim possibility, it is a mathematical certainty. And the mathematics of that make it not worth the risk.
      Grant: Other then the oil and gas and mining industries, there are lots of fields that require trades. Geothermal, wind and solar, IT, etc etc.. But feel free to move anyways!
      There's also this always overlooked (by the powers that be) problem called climate change. I know it's nothing more than a anti-capitalist, pinko commie plot promoted by hippies and fags, but the fact is: the more pipelines, fracked wells, etc. we build, the harder it is to deal with these make believe disasters.
      PS: For the benefit of those more "challenged", that last paragraph was sarcasm. 'Nuff said.