Environment trumps economics in pipeline debate: B.C. Premier
Christina Commisso-Georgee, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, March 10, 2013 8:58AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, March 10, 2013 12:27PM EDT
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark says she’s not interested in any economic gains stemming from the Northern Gateway pipeline if it poses a risk to the province’s coastline.
Clark did say, however, if the controversial project is approved, B.C. would be looking for its “fair share” of economic benefits.
Speaking to CTV’s Question Period on Sunday, Clark outlined five conditions the pipeline would need to meet before her government is fully supportive of the project.
The conditions largely address environmental protections along with First Nations rights and economic benefits.
“I am not interested in getting our fair share if we aren’t able to satisfy the environmental conditions,” Clark said. “There is no amount of money that could make up for an environmentally unsound proposal."
She said she won’t take an “unnecessary risk” with B.C.’s coastline.
The Northern Gateway project would see twin pipelines built between Edmonton and a marine terminal on B.C.’s northern coast of Kitimat. The eastbound pipeline would transport natural gas condensate and the westbound pipeline would carry bitumen from the oilsands to Kitimat, where it would be transported to Asian markets by oil tankers.
Enbridge, the company behind the project, says British Columbians, in the long-term, would see $1.2 billion in tax revenue alone and 560 new long-term jobs as a result of the pipeline, though environmental groups and First Nations have raised concerns about potential oil spills.
Clark said if the project moves forward, she will not seek royalties from Alberta’s oilsands, rather any financial gains to B.C. would have to stem from discussions with its neighbouring province, the federal government and the business community.
“To me, the (revenue) source is much less important than the fact that if this is going to happen, and we can find a way to make it environmentally safe, that we get our economic fair share out of it,” she added.
With a provincial election set for mid-May, Clark’s Liberal government may not have the chance to execute its Northern Gateway strategy, as even the Premier herself has admitted she is an underdog heading into the vote.
Following an onslaught of controversy stemming from a leaked document outlining a Liberal plan to win the province’s ethnic vote, Clark’s popularity has taken a hit.
The 17-page report, leaked by the NDP, prompted the resignation of Clark’s chief of staff while the minister responsible for the multiculturalism portfolio has temporarily stepped down. The scandal also prompted members of her own party to call for Clark’s resignation.
Recent polls suggest NDP leader Adrian Dix has a significant lead heading into the May 14 election.
“There’s nothing the matter with being the underdog,” Clark said. “I think that’s not a bad way to go into a campaign, to be underestimated.”