Greens call for legal protection for BC coastline against Athabasca Tar Sands tankers

Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May and Deputy Leader Adriane Carr are in Ottawa today to push for a legislated ban on crude oil tankers along BC’s coast. Ms. Carr brings to Ottawa a banner she received at a rally in Vancouver on October 17 from the ‘No Tanks’ coalition of citizens with the message that they don’t want a crude oil port or crude oil tankers on BC’s coast.

The Green Party’s call for a legislated ban on crude oil tankers along BC’s coast includes the north coast, threatened by the Enbridge pipeline and Kitimat oil port proposals, and the south coast where oil tankers carrying Athabasca tar sands crude oil currently leave Vancouver’s inner harbour through the world’s riskiest tanker passage (the Second Narrows) and plough past Stanley Park and the Gulf Islands on their way to California and China.

“One of the best kept secrets in Canada is the fact that we already have crude oil tankers passing by the largest population centers and some of the richest marine areas along BC’s coast,” stated Elizabeth May, national leader of the Green Party of Canada. “Plans to expand the operations five-fold will increase the risk even further to the people and marine ecosystems in the area.”

Since 2007, the federal government has quietly allowed up to 1.2 million barrels of tar sands crude oil to be shipped from Kinder-Morgan’s Burrard Inlet terminal in Vancouver each week. Kinder-Morgan is proposing a five-fold increase in oil tanker traffic through the region in coming years in order to service the expansion of the Alberta tar sands to access Asian and international markets.

“Developing Vancouver as a major tar sands oil port threatens everything people love about Vancouver, including its goal of becoming the greenest city in the world,” said Adriane Carr, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada and nominated candidate for Vancouver Centre.

“The West Coast of North America is recognized as having the richest, temperate marine waters on the planet, both in terms of biological diversity and productivity”, stated Ms. Carr,  “The consequences of a major oil spill would be catastrophic for our biodiversity, tourism, fisheries and our west coast quality of life. We need to protect BC’s exceptional marine environment and restrict the growth of the Athabasca Tar Sands – not create an expanded gateway to international markets for higher volumes of exports of the planet’s dirtiest oil.”

As part of the Northern Gateway project, which entails the creation of a deep sea port in Prince Rupert and the Enbridge Pipeline from the Athabasca tar sands to Kitimat in northern BC, and a potential 5-fold increase in oil tanker traffic in Vancouver’s harbour, both the federal and BC governments have been working to facilitate the transportation infrastructure to expand the Alberta tar sands. The Athabasca tar sands are considered to be the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive oil extraction megaproject on Earth.

“In the House, the Minister of Natural Resources has described the oil tanker ban as voluntary. And under cover of loose terminology, oil tanker traffic on BC’s coast is on the rise. Since they came to power in 2006, the Harper Conservatives have shown themselves to be the strongest proponents of increased oil tanker traffic and expansion of the Alberta tar sands that is driving this whole process along,” stated Elizabeth May. “We must reverse this trend with multi-partisan cooperation for a federal, legislated ban on oil tanker traffic along Canada’s entire West Coast. I will be working to mobilize the Green Party membership and approaching the other parties to see that this happens.”