B.C. denies PM’s claim
B.C. REJECTS TRUDEAU’S STANCE IT’S BEEN SILENT ON TRANS MOUNTAIN DEMANDS
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.