NDP: short circuit federal Enbridge review

Adrian Dix will give 30 days notice to the federal government that the province will do its own environmental review of the Enbridge project

BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix announced Aug. 22 that, if elected next May, he will give 30 days notice to the federal government that the province will undertake its own environmental review process of the Enbridge pipeline proposal.

Green Party of BC Leader Jane Sterk says Dix’s statements clarify his party’s position and opens the door for NDP support for the pipeline to cross Northern British Columbia, after its previous stance clearly opposed the project.

“I am profoundly disappointed but not surprised by this seeming change in the NDP position.”

Cariboo-Chilcotin NDP candidate Charlie Wyse says this move would position B.C. to argue any federal review results approving the project, which is Dix’s intention.

“The NDP position is very clear on the Enbridge pipeline; we’re opposed to it.”

The entire caucus signed a letter earlier this year to the federal authorities responsible stating it is opposed to the pipeline project that would cross 600 streams and watercourses with bitumen, as well as increasing tanker traffic on the coastline, he explains.

“B.C. is taking the majority of the risks … and the benefits are simply not there for us.”

The process is already underway and under the responsibility of the federal government, so getting that veto power back into the hands of the province is what the move is all about, he explains.

Without going this route, Wyse says there isn’t any other route for the province to take to stop the ball rolling on the pipeline approval.

That’s because in 2010, this was formalized in a federal-provincial contract. However, Dix says he’s found a way to bow out of through its 30-day clause for withdrawal.

“The B.C. Liberals signed an agreement that whatever the federal environmental review process came up with, they would accept that.”

Dix announced that if elected premier next May he will place this blockade in front of the pipeline, Wyse adds.

“The province is entitled to do its own environmental review process under that agreement. Whether the pipeline proceeds or not is a federal decision … then it becomes a legal battle.”

Meanwhile, Sterk says constitutional lawyer Murray Rankin recently suggested there might be other ways to legally stop the project, yet the NDP intends to go the environmental assessment route rather than “simply saying ‘no’.”

“The provincial environmental assessment process is weak and virtually all projects are approved.”

Wyse notes that if the provincial review doesn’t reject the project, the B.C. cabinet would then make the final decision.

While he concedes that whatever a provincial review found would be used to base a final pipeline decision on, Wyse notes it’s likely the only way to attempt to prevent the pipeline.

The B.C. Liberal government has “formed no opinion” on whether the project should proceed, he says, adding it’s an indication any decision the fed’s make is “good” with them.

“That’s not the way B.C.’s interest should be looked after.”