Blowing Smoke into the Bee Hive

The BC Liberal written submission to the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel is all over the news and social media today. There is a lot of rejoicing; Northern Gateway is dead!
pipe monster
I hate to dampen people’s spirits, but I have to insist that this is one case where you had best not consider the enemy dead until you have carved its heart out with your own hand.

The BC Liberals have not indicated that they will withdraw BC from the joint review process. A process that has already seen its deadline retroactively shortened and final decision-making authority taken from it by the Harper government. Harper’s people continue to call the pipeline a national imperative.

The BC Liberals have made their five conditions;

1. Completing the environmental review process. In the case of Enbridge, that would mean a recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel that the project proceed.

NEB doesn’t reject pipelines, they put conditions on them. Even in the extreme case of a rejection by the NEB, Harper’s Cabinet has the power to overrule the Joint Review.

2. Deploying 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.

They always claim to have ‘world-leading’ bla, bla. There’s nothing quantifiable here. BPs world-leading use of dispersants seems to have done more harm than good aside from the benefit in the PR battle of having less oil visible. Meanwhile, as the Watershed Sentinel points out “DFO’s teams of experts on ocean contaminants in marine mammals, on marine oil pollution, and on oil spill countermeasures have all been disbanded. Gone too is the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research – the only agency with the ability to adequately assess offshore projects. Nine out of 11 DFO marine science libraries will be shut.”

How laugable does that and the all too frequent similar news make recent federal claims that the pipeline decision will be “science based”?

3. Using world-leading practices for land oil-spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines.

See #2

4. Addressing legal requirements regarding aboriginal and treaty rights, and ensuring First Nations provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project.

Addressing legal requirements to whose standards? The gap between industry’s idea of consultation and First Nations’ idea of consultation is notorious. “Ensuring opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project” What is that? Some jobs? It does not say “First Nations consent”.

5. Ensuring British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.

Read “Give us some money”. Considering what’s at stake, they’ll put up some money, or China will.

No one seems to be talking about the New West Partnership and its Energy Memorandum of Understanding that commits the three western-most provinces to “begin working immediately on a number of projects, including developing a joint strategy to target opportunities in Asia, and improving consultation with industry.” (industry isn’t consulted enough?)

Just two days ago during a trip to Alberta that included a visit to the Tar Sands, BC Environment Minister Terry Lake reiterated that the three New West Partnership premiers would be meeting soon. He said that BC had left “a pathway to yes” open on pipeline projects.

I’ll say they have.

My take on this written submission? Blowing smoke into the bee hive.

I hope I’m wrong.

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