VICTORIA - Minister of Environment Terry Lake reassured municipal leaders from across the province that protection of the environment is a priority for any approval of heavy-oil pipeline projects, at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities today.
The five minimum requirements that must be met for the B.C. government to consider the construction and operation of heavy-oil pipelines within its borders are:
- Successful completion of the environmental review process. In the case of the Northern Gateway Pipeline, that means a recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel that the project proceed.
- World-leading marine oil-spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B.C.'s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy-oil pipelines and shipments.
- World-leading practices for land oil-spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy-oil pipelines.
- Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed, and First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project.
- British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy-oil project that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the government, the environment and taxpayers.
The government of British Columbia has initiated work with Canada to see B.C. positioned as a world leader in marine oil spill response. Staff from the B.C. Ministry of Environment have met with senior federal officials to discuss B.C.'s proposed improvements to marine-spill response and recovery planning and resources, and will continue to work in close partnership with Transport Canada to deliver the necessary improvements.
As a registered intervener at the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Joint Review Panel hearings taking place this fall, B.C. has already cross-examined Northern Gateway Pipelines (NGP) at the hearings in Edmonton with a focus on NGP funding to cover spill clean-up costs and corporate liability insurance.
B.C.'s cross-examination of NGP will continue in Prince George, starting in early October, with a focus on spill prevention and response for the land portion of the pipeline. Special consideration will be given to the geographic and climate challenges on British Columbia's remote and variable terrain.
In late November, the B.C. government will cross-examination NGP at the hearings in Prince Rupert and will delve into the company's maritime-spill prevention and response capabilities, including their commitments to exceed regulatory standards for spill response.
The government of British Columbia will continue to ensure that any heavy-oil pipeline proposal in British Columbia has world-leading policies and processes governing spill prevention, response and recovery and liability insurance that reduce government and public exposure to risk prior to even considering supporting such a proposal. Protecting the environment is paramount.
Ministry of Environment