A local environmentalist thinks the B.C. NDP, like “a lot of politicians”, wants to take “a solid position on Enbridge, but not be opposed to everything”.
Ben West, healthy-communities coordinator with the Wilderness Committee, claimed that the collapse of forestry in the province makes gas more attractive as an industry. And although the provincial NDP has publicly opposed Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, the Straight recently reported that the party supports the planned 463-kilometre Pacific Trail Pipelines project.
The latter proposed pipeline would run from Summit Lake, just north of Prince George, to a liquified-natural-gas plant in Kitimat, and would transport gas produced through hydraulic fracturing, also referred to as fracking.
“I would like it if the connection was being made between these projects, and if there was a consistency of position,” West told the Straight by phone. “I think it’s unstrategic, if you’re genuinely concerned about the Enbridge Pipeline, to support Pacific Trail’s, because’s it’s basically a groundbreaking project, or a trailbreaking project, I should say.”
The latter is a joint venture of Apache Canada Ltd., EOG Resources Canada Inc., and Encana Corp. According to West, it would run along much the same route as the Enbridge pipeline.
“So we’re talking access roads and staging grounds and power lines, a lot of the stuff that’s necessary to push through the Enbridge pipeline, could become a reality because of the Pacific Trails pipeline,” West said. “Even if you did want to give support to this project—which I don’t think anybody should—I would say, ‘Not until Enbridge has been defeated.’ ”
B.C. NDP energy critic John Horgan told the Straight last week: “In terms of the notion that there’s a contradiction in NDP policy, I don’t think there is.”
Horgan also claimed the impacts of gas are “not as devastating” and said that fracking—the practice of pumping fresh water and toxic chemicals deep into the ground to fracture shale bedrock in order to release natural gas—is “mature” in this province, despite concerns being raised elsewhere in Canada.
Independent MLAs Vicki Huntington and Bob Simpson were on vacation and unavailable to comment on the NDP’s position, while Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen referred the Straight to his party leader, the B.C. Conservatives’ John Cummins, who did not respond by Straight deadline.