Monday, August 27, 2012


Pipeline Politics

NDP Waffles on Enbridge 

Dix's environmental assessment position opens door for project support

Released by the BC Green Party


drian Dix announced that as Premier, he would serve 30 days notice within his first week in office that an NDP government would pull out of the federal process reviewing the Enbridge Northern Gateway Projectand substitute a provincial environmental assessment. His statement clarifies the BC NDP position and opens the door for NDP support for the pipeline.

Dix's commitment suggests he would let the final decision on the pipeline rest with the provincial environmental assessment process, a process as hopelessly flawed (here) as the one being conducted by the National Energy Board.

The position the BC NDP stated in its letter to the Joint Review Panel seemed strongly in opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline project. At that time, Dix indicated the NDP was seeking a legal opinion about whether the project could be stopped if it receives approval under the federal review. Even though constitutional lawyer Murray Rankin suggested at yesterday's new conference that there might be ways to legally stop the project, the NDP intends to go the environmental assessment route rather than simply saying no.

"I am profoundly disappointed but not surprised by this seeming change in the NDP position," says Jane Sterk, leader of the Green Party of BC. "The provincial environmental assessment process is weak and virtually all projects are approved. It was provincial environmental assessment, after all, that approved the Prosperity Mine project only to have it rejected federally.

"The NDP is essentially taking the same position on Enbridge as they do on Site C - to wait for the results of the environmental assessment. While they say they don't want either project that is rhetoric for their base and environmentalists who seem to think the NDP will make strong environmental commitments if they become government."

The BC environmental assessment process was weakened under the BC Liberals from improvements made under the BC NDP. But even under the NDP the process was inadequate.

BC Greens would reform the environmental assessment process. We would appoint an independent Commissioner for Environment and Sustainability, mandate sustainability as the primary purpose of Environmental Assessments, and make mandatory Environmental Assessments on all projects, plans, decision and actions that may have environmental impacts.

Under the Green Party of BC, Environmental Assessments would:

- Assess all potential economic, environmental and social impacts (triple bottom-line assessment)
- Examine cumulative effects
- Evaluate alternatives to proposed projects
- Utilize a Watershed Based Assessment
- Be inclusive of local governments, First Nations, and public participation
- Be part of a broader land-use and planning regime.

"If Adrian Dix had announced that the BC NDP would improve the environmental assessment process and how they would do so, yesterday's announcement might represent a principled position," continues Sterk. "As it stands, it is a typical NDP strategy to appear to stand for one thing when, in fact, they are taking a wait and see approach, which leaves the final decision to some external review process.

"I hope NDP members and the general public demand that the NDP take clear and definitive positions on Enbridge and all other issues facing BC before next year's provincial election. For over a decade, the BC Liberals have been saying one thing and doing another. It's sad that we might simply exchange Liberal duplicity for the same thing from the NDP," concludes Sterk.



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