Legislation Introduced to ban oil tanker traffic from the Great Bear Rainforest’s coastal waters
VANCOUVER – British Columbia environmentalists are applauding legislation recently introduced in Parliament that will protect the province’s North Central Coast from the threats associated with crude oil tanker traffic.
The private member’s bill – Bill C-571 - was introduced by Catherine Bell, NDP Member of Parliament (Vancouver Island North), on June 18, 2008 and it prohibits oil tankers in the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and the Queen Charlotte Sound. This coastal area is some of the most pristine in B.C., and includes the waters of the Great Bear Rainforest.
“Given the obvious threat that crude oil tanker traffic represents to B.C.’s marine ecology and the economic sectors that depend on it, like fisheries and tourism, the introduction of this legislation is an extremely important development in Ottawa,” said Oonagh O’Connor, Energy Campaign Manager for the Living Oceans Society.
The North Central Coast region is under significant threat from industrial development, with at least six large-scale oil and gas marine terminals, including Enbridge’s “Gateway Pipelines Project”, proposed for the Kitimat area in the last three years.
These oil and gas facilities would be built largely to service pipelines that extend hundreds of kilometres across B.C. to the Alberta tar sands. The projects would result in hundreds of Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC’s) full of crude oil travelling through B.C.’s Central Coast waters each year.
The tanker traffic would significantly threaten the $1.7 billion fishing industry that employs more than 16,000 people in B.C. and the coastal tourism sector that sees up to 500,000 people travel the Inside Passage annually. It would also be the first time that the federal government has allowed such massive tankers in this pristine area of the coast.
“This legislation ensures that what has been the status quo for over 30 years will be maintained,” stated Charles Campbell of the Dogwood Initiative in Victoria. “Ms. Bell should be congratulated for tabling a law that will protect the economic and ecological value of B.C.’s coast. We hope that the Conservative government will see that it is passed, which is what the polls tell us that a strong majority of British Columbians want.”
Greg Gowe, a lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law in Vancouver, applauds the legislation: “The threat of oil tanker traffic needs a legislated end, so that British Columbians can be ensured that their pristine coastal waters will be protected now and in the future. The legislation will also go a long way to making sure that B.C. doesn’t undercut its own aggressive global warming agenda by facilitating the growth of the Alberta tar sands.”
Greg Gowe, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law, (604) 220-2520
Charles Campbell, Communications Coordinator, the Dogwood Initiative, (250) 370-9930
Jennifer Lash, Executive Director, Living Oceans Society, 250-973-6580