B.C. municipalities oppose Enbridge pipeline

CALGARY—The Union of British Columbia Municipalities passed a resolution Friday opposing Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline, a project that already has a number of vocal critics.

Leslie Johnson, a councilor from the village of Queen Charlotte, which put forward the resolution, said while the vote has no binding power, it puts pressure on the provincial government to ask the Ottawa to block the pipeline.

The 1,172-kilometre Northern Gateway line would transport oil sands crude to tankers at a port in Kitimat, B.C. The tankers would then head to markets in Asia, creating the only market outside North America for Canada’s oil sands exports.

“If there were a [spill] we would be surrounded by oil,” Ms. Johnson said in an interview. Queen Charlotte is an island about 100 kilometres off the coast from Prince Rupert.

About 100 UBCM delegates were in the room when the vote was passed, she said. The resolution passed by a show of hands, so the exact number of votes for and against is unknown. Only votes that are too close to call by a show of hands are precisely counted at UBCM annual meetings. There are roughly 180 municipalities in B.C., she said.

Ms. Johnson argues the coast is home to a $2.6-billion economy, fueled by fishing and tourism. Tanker traffic would put this at risk, she said. The UBCM delegates also passed a resolution demanding a ban on offshore drilling. There is currently a moratorium on offshore drilling in B.C., but the councilor said the current wording is vague and the municipalities would like stronger language.

Canada’s energy industry argues pipelines are the safest way to transport oil and gas, and Enbridge says tankers have improved significantly since the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, a spill that many of Enbridge’s opponents bring up when outlining their concerns.

Enbridge’s recent oil spill in a Michigan river provided further arguments for the Calgary-based company’s opponents. Enbridge could not be immediately reached for comment.

“We understand that some people have genuine concerns about ensuring the project can be built and operated safely, and that economic benefits accrue to northern B.C. communities and British Columbia as a whole,” Alan Roth, an Enbridge spokesperson, said in an email. “Northern Gateway is undergoing an impartial and rigorous regulatory review process to determine whether the project is in the public interest. We feel that people’s concerns will decrease as they learn the facts about the Northern Gateway Project. The project will bring significant and lasting benefits to the economies and the people of northern B.C. in an environmentally safe and sustainable way.


Read more: http://www.financialpost.com/news/municipalities+oppose+Enbridge+pipeline/3610324/story.html#ixzz14I2MQv5L

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