B.C. de­nies PM’s claim


Lethbridge Herald - - HEADLINE NEWS - Mia Rab­son

The Bri­tish Columbia gov­ern­ment is deny­ing Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s claim that it has been mum on how Ot­tawa should re­in­force en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions — and of­fer­ing as proof a de­tailed list of six de­mands it says were pro­vided to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in Fe­bru­ary.

The list of items was pro­vided to the fed­eral Lib­er­als right af­ter B.C. warned it was con­sid­er­ing whether to re­strict the flow of di­luted bi­tu­men into the prov­ince should the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion be al­lowed to pro­ceed, an of­fi­cial told The Cana­dian Press. They in­clude: • En­sur­ing enough emer­gency tow ves­sels in re­sponse to in­creased tanker traf­fic off the B.C. coast.

• Spe­cific plans to re­spond in the event of an en­vi­ron­men­tal in­ci­dent re­lated to the pipe­line.

• Im­prove­ments to make the pipe­line it­self safer.

• A com­pen­sa­tion plan in the event of a spill caus­ing the loss of pub­lic use of a marine en­vi­ron­ment.

• Im­proved re­search into the be­hav­iour and cleanup of spilled di­luted bi­tu­men.

• Wean­ing marine coastal com­mu­ni­ties off diesel-fu­elled elec­tric­ity.

“Over the past year, par­tic­u­larly in Fe­bru­ary 2018, B.C. iden­ti­fied a num­ber of gaps in ex­ist­ing spill preven­tion and re­sponse both on land and in our coastal wa­ters,” said the of­fi­cial, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they weren’t au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly.

“These dis­cus­sions were not lim­ited to, but in­cluded, mea­sures re­lated to the Oceans Pro­tec­tion Plan.”

On Sun­day, fol­low­ing a meet­ing with the pre­miers of B.C. and Al­berta over the Trans Moun­tain im­passe, Trudeau said he was open to mak­ing ad­di­tional in­vest­ments and im­prove­ments in en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions for B.C.’s coast­lines — over and above the gov­ern­ment’s Oceans Pro­tec­tion Plan — to help mit­i­gate the con­cerns of en­vi­ron­men­tal op­po­nents.

But since the NDP gov­ern­ment was elected in B.C. last sum­mer, it has “not specif­i­cally put for­ward pro­pos­als on how they would like to see us im­prove the Oceans Pro­tec­tion Plan,” he said.

B.C. En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Ge­orge Hey­man wouldn’t ac­cuse Trudeau of ly­ing out­right.

“What I’m say­ing is we’ve been en­gaged with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, there’s been on­go­ing dis­cus­sion and we’ve raised a num­ber of is­sues,” Hey­man said.

“We’ve in­di­cated to them the kinds of things we think would be help­ful to pre­vent con­tam­i­na­tion of the coast­line from a spill and a va­ri­ety of haz­ardous prod­ucts.”

B.C. and Ot­tawa are on op­pos­ing sides of the Trans Moun­tain fight, with Trudeau’s gov­ern­ment in­sist­ing it has the nec­es­sary en­vi­ron­men­tal poli­cies in place in or­der to al­low a pipe­line ex­pan­sion that Ot­tawa and Al­berta agree is nec­es­sary to get max­i­mum value for Canada’s fos­sil fu­els.

B.C. op­poses the project, say­ing not enough is known about di­luted bi­tu­men. In Jan­uary, the B.C. gov­ern­ment said it would con­sult about the gaps in knowl­edge, hint­ing at the pos­si­bil­ity of reg­u­la­tion to re­strict the flow of bi­tu­men into B.C. in the in­terim.

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