Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Moratorium 'applies only to southbound oil-tanker traffic' (Yeah, right)

Ban doesn't apply in this case, ministers say
Moratorium 'applies only to southbound oil-tanker traffic'
Christina Montgomery, The Province
Published: Sunday, June 03, 2007

When is a moratorium not a moratorium? Apparently, when governments decide it's just a "policy."

In 1972, the Liberal government of then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau declared a moratorium on tanker traffic off B.C.'s north coast -- but didn't pass the ban into law. Soon afterward, it issued a similar ban on development of coastal oil and gas, later extending it to Johnstone, Georgia and Juan de Fuca straits and Queen Charlotte basin.

In the late 1980s, while Victoria and Ottawa mulled cancellation of the moratoriums, the Exxon Valdez struck a reef off Alaska and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil -- and the bans were left in place.

In 2003-2004, at the request of B.C., Natural Resources Canada ordered a three-part review of the ban. One part concluded the ban on tanker traffic should remain in place and the ban on drilling remain in place at least until more study was done.

One study found that three-quarters of British Columbians supported the ban. Another found unanimous support for the ban among First Nations.

Yet, since January 2006, 14 tankers have been allowed to sail through the moratorium zone to offload condensate, a toxic petrochemical used in the Alberta tar sands, in Kitimat.

Why? Apparently because the moratorium has been redefined.

In an Aug. 10, 2005, letter to Guy Jarvis, vice-president of upstream development at Enbridge Gateway Pipelines -- the company proposing a pipeline from Kitimat to Alberta's oil sands -- provincial Energy Minister Richard Neufeld and Economic Development Minister Colin Hansen say the federal moratorium "was a policy moratorium, and is not based on legislation."

It says "a crucial aspect of the moratorium is that it remains solely directed at foreign oil-tanker traffic transiting B.C.'s coast" and is "not directed at, and has no application to, oil tankers sailing to or from British Columbia ports."

On the federal front, a Sept. 7, 2006, letter from Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon to Karen Campbell, staff counsel for the Pembina Institute, a sustainable energy group, says "there is only one tanker-routing measure in place for the west coast of British Columbia." Cannon says that's a voluntary "tanker exclusion zone" agreed to by the U.S. and Canada and applies to laden tankers heading south between Alaska and Juan de Fuca Strait.

© The Vancouver Province 2007

Oilsandstruth.org is not associated with any other web site or organization. Please contact us regarding the use of any materials on this site.

Tar Sands Photo Albums by Project

Discussion Points on a Moratorium

User login


Syndicate content