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NEWS RELEASE · 14th January 2011
BC NDP Caucus
In the wake of a report detailing how a single spill stemming from the Enbridge tarsands pipeline could cost taxpayers billions of dollars to clean up, New Democrats are calling on B.C. Liberal leadership hopefuls to tell British Columbians where they stand on this dirty and destructive proposal.

The report, released by the Living Oceans Society, shows that Enbridge doesn’t have to pay to clean up a spill caused by an oil tanker loaded with crude from their pipeline, and that the maximum amount that the ship’s owner can be forced to pay is $140 million. The Exxon Valdez spill cost more than $3.5 billion – not including money lost by industries like fishing and tourism which rely on a clean coast.

“B.C. taxpayers could lose billions of dollars if the Enbridge tarsands pipeline is allowed to go forward,” said Gary Coons, the New Democrat MLA for the North Coast. “For people in my constituency, the Enbridge tarsands pipeline represents a threat to their jobs, their way of life, and the special places they care about.”

More than 80 First Nations oppose the Enbridge tarsands pipeline – and the B.C. Union of Municipalities passed a resolution opposing the proposal.

“It is time for B.C. Liberal leadership candidates to reveal whether they support this project,” said Doug Donaldson, the New Democrat MLA for Stikine. “In particular, I think George Abbott needs to tell British Columbia’s First Nations leaders – who have overwhelmingly rejected this project – whether he would heed their calls to halt the Enbridge tarsands pipeline if he becomes premier.

“It’s time for George Abbott to step up and show the people of this province whether or not the new relationship is more than rhetoric.”

An internal audit which shows that the Canadian Coast Guard is unprepared to deal with a major oil spill because of a lack of training and aging equipment is one more reason to put the brakes on the proposal.

“Ultimately this report shows that British Columbia and Canada are unprepared for the economic and environmental consequences of the Enbridge tarsands pipeline,” said New Democrat environment critic, Rob Fleming. “Enbridge has a long history of oil spills – including one this year that poured more than three million litres of crude into the Kalamazoo river in Michigan. Communities and First Nations have rejected this project because the economic and environmental risks far outweigh any benefits.”

Sport and commercial fishing generate more than $1 billion a year in revenue in British Columbia, much of that in small rural communities without many other economic opportunities. A catastrophic oil spill would also negatively impact British Columbia’s $1.5 billion dollar wilderness tourism industry, which provides more than 26,000 direct full-time jobs to the province.

“A single spill of Enbridge tarsands crude could wipe out several industries which communities in the northwest rely on,” said Robin Austin, the New Democrat MLA for Skeena. “The social, environmental and economic risks of this project far outweigh the benefits.”