May 31, 2013 - 11:35 AM
VICTORIA - British Columbia has made its final written submission to the Northern Gateway Pipeline Joint Review Panel. In the submission, the Province states that it cannot support the project as presented to the panel because Northern Gateway has been unable to address British Columbians' environmental concerns.
"British Columbia thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence and submissions made to the panel and asked substantive questions about the project including its route, spill response capacity and financial structure to handle any incidents," said Environment Minister Terry Lake. "Our questions were not satisfactorily answered during these hearings."
"We have carefully considered the evidence that has been presented to the Joint Review Panel," said Lake. "The panel must determine if it is appropriate to grant a certificate for the project as currently proposed on the basis of a promise to do more study and planning after the certificate is granted. Our government does not believe that a certificate should be granted before these important questions are answered."
The provincial government has established, and maintains, strict conditions in order for British Columbia to consider the construction and operation of heavy-oil pipelines in the province.
- Successful completion of the environmental review process. In the case of Northern Gateway, that would mean 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; and
- British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy-oil project that reflect the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.
"Northern Gateway has said that they would provide effective spill response in all cases. However, they have presented little evidence as to how they will respond," Lake said. "For that reason, our government cannot support the issuance of a certificate for the pipeline as it was presented to the Joint Review Panel."
In April 2012, the Joint Review Panel released 199 potential conditions that could form part of an authorization for the Northern Gateway Pipeline project if it received federal approval. In preparing the final argument submission, the Province's legal and technical experts analyzed the conditions and determined that they must be strengthened to meet B.C.'s interests and requirements.
The position adopted by B.C. on the Northern Gateway Pipeline project as currently proposed is not a rejection of heavy-oil projects. All proposals - such as Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion or the Kitimat Clean project - will be judged on their merits. The Province's five conditions would still apply.
British Columbia will be presenting oral final arguments to the Joint Review Panel when hearings recommence in Terrace on June 17, based on B.C.'s final written submission.
The Province's submission to the Joint Review Panel can be viewed online.
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