Wednesday, August 22, 2012

 

BC Politics

Dix Would Nix Pipeline Pact

NDP leader Dix says  "made in BC"  best for province

Released by Mike Lowe, BC NDP Caucus/Voice file photo

 

New Democrat government will withdraw from the federal government's Enbridge Northern Gateway Project review process and set up a "made in B.C." environmental assessment to ensure the province's interests are protected, B.C. New Democrat leader Adrian Dix announced.

 

"Within a week of taking office, we will serve the federal government with 30 days' notice to terminate the 2010 deal in which the Liberals signed away B.C.'s interests," Dix said. "British Columbia's citizens, communities and First Nations must have full confidence that their voices will be heard by Victoria.

"This Liberal government has failed British Columbians at every stage of the Enbridge pipeline application process. First they signed away B.C.'s right to review the project. Then they refused to take a clear stance. They even missed the deadline to provide evidence to the federal process."

Under Section 6 of the 2010 Equivalency Agreement between the Province of B.C. and Canada, either party can withdraw from the process with 30 days' written notice. While the process is being conducted by a "Joint Review Panel," Dix noted the word "joint" refers to the shared authority of two federal agencies, the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Authority - not to a joint initiative undertaken by B.C. and Ottawa.

"A made in B.C. review will ensure that British Columbia's economic, social and environmental interests are fully addressed, that B.C.'s powers and responsibilities are properly exercised and that First Nations' interests are properly recognized within this new process," said New Democrat environment critic Rob Fleming.

In April, the New Democrat caucus submitted a letter to the Joint Review Panel detailing its reasons for opposing the Northern Gateway Project. Dix has also convened a panel of legal experts, led by renowned constitutional lawyer Murray Rankin, to assess B.C.'s legal authority and to identify legal options with regard to the pipeline.
 

 

Background

 

Equivalency Agreement

In 2010, the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office and the National Energy Board signed an Environmental Assessment Equivalency Agreement.

The Agreement stated that any N.E.B. assessment of a Project would be accepted as being equivalent to an assessment under the B.C. Environmental Assessment Act [s27(3)(d)].

Section 6 of the Agreement allows either party to terminate it upon giving 30 days' written notice to the other Party, up to the point that a decision on whether or not to approve the project has been made.

The term "Joint Review Panel" does not refer to a joint undertaking between B.C. and Canada. Rather, the word "joint" refers to the shared exercise of authority by the N.E.B. and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Authority - both of which are federal agencies.

None of the appointees to the Joint Review Panel is from British Columbia.

"Made in B.C." Review
B.C.'s own environmental assessment process has been systematically weakened by the B.C. Liberal government to the point where it cannot be relied upon, in its current form, to provide a meaningful review of projects.


New Democrats are committed to strengthening the B.C. Environmental Assessment Act, but this will require time-consuming legislative changes.


To avoid unnecessary delays in reviewing the Enbridge proposal, a New Democrat government will initiate its assessment under Section 31 of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Act. This can be achieved in a much more timely manner, since a legislative amendment would not be required in order to initiate such an assessment review.


Section 31 allows the responsible Minister to order a variation in environmental assessment for a specific project if circumstances warrant.


The assessment will consider impacts of the project to areas of provincial jurisdiction such as wildlife, forests, inland water bodies containing non-anadromous fish, and air and water quality.


A "made in B.C." assessment will ensure that the voices of citizens, communities and First Nations, as well as business, are properly heard.
 

 

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