Press Release: Federal Oil Tanker Moratorium Act passes in the House of Commons

VANCOUVER, BC, Coast Salish Territories – Environmental lawyers are celebrating the news that Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, has passed the House of Commons.

“Today is a day to thank members of northern communities who have fought hard for north coast oil tanker ban legislation, and to congratulate everyone who has worked for so long to move this important law forward. The passing of Bill C-48 in the House is a big step forward for keeping north coast ecosystems, communities and livelihoods safe from the risk of oil spills,” said Jessica Clogg, Executive Director & Senior Counsel at West Coast Environmental Law Association.

The Bill, tabled almost one year ago by Transport Minister Marc Garneau, prohibits oil tankers carrying more than 12,500 tonnes of crude or persistent oil from stopping, loading or unloading at ports in northern British Columbia. Once it is fully enacted, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act will protect the region from future crude oil supertanker proposals similar to the now-defunct Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines and tankers project.

The Bill upholds the Coastal First Nations Declaration, which in 2010 declared that crude oil tankers were not permitted in the ancestral lands and waters of the Wuikinuxv, Heiltsuk, Haisla, Kitasoo, Metlakatla, Gitga’at and Haida peoples.

West Coast and allies have worked to support and give legislative teeth to an oil tanker ban on the north Pacific coast since the 1970s.   

Since the federal government committed to the legislation in 2015, West Coast lawyers have participated in Transport Canada roundtables, made written and oral submissions, testified before Parliamentary committees and met with Ministers and federal officials to advocate for strong oil tanker ban legislation.

“Today’s passing of Bill C-48 is the result of almost half a century of hard work by First Nations, community members, environmental organizations and politicians. It’s a significant win for the coast that the oil tanker moratorium has finally reached this point, and we wish it swift passage through the Senate,” said Clogg.

The bill will now be sent to the Senate for consideration before becoming law.

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