Northern Gateway Pipeline: Councillors In Terrace, B.C., Vote To Oppose Enbridge Project
TERRACE, B.C. - B.C. Energy Minister Rich Coleman has criticized Terrace city council for its decision to oppose the $5.5 billion Northern Gateway oil pipeline.
Coleman said Wednesday he can't tell municipal politicians what to do, but he prefers local politicians to follow the B.C. government and hold off on taking a stand on the controversial project until the completion of federal environmental review hearings in 2013.
"We've said all along, the premier's said all along, we're going to wait for that (joint review panel) process. I think some of these other jurisdictions should do the same," he said.
Coleman said he believes it's important to let the federal review process play itself out before deciding whether or not to support the Enbridge Inc., (TSX:ENB) Northern Gateway project.
More than 60 B.C. First Nations and aboriginal organizations have signed a declaration opposing the plan to build a 1,177-kilometre twin pipeline from Alberta to the northwest B.C. port of Kitimat, where huge oil tankers will ship oil to Asia and the United States.
The Union of B.C. Municipalities also voted against the oil pipeline at their meeting last fall. Terrace announced its opposition at a council meeting earlier this week.
"You've got to wait until you hear it all," said Coleman. "This is an important project for Canada, everybody knows that, and through this process there could be tweaks and changes that would actually allay people's concerns that may be out there."
Terrace councillors voted 5-2 Monday to oppose the pipeline, saying the project may be good for Ottawa and Alberta, but leaves Terrace, Kitimat and the surrounding communities with few benefits and most of the environmental risk.
The Terrace area's New Democrat MLA said Terrace council has shown leadership on a difficult issue and he expects other area councils to take similar action.
"It's essentially what people have been saying: We hold all the risk and Alberta gets all the benefits," Skeena MLA Robin Austin said.
But so far, Terrace is on its own in the northwest, with councils in the neighbouring cities of Prince Rupert, Kitimat and Smithers deciding to hold off on taking a position on Northern Gateway until after the review process.
Former Prince George mayor Colin Kinsley has taken on the job of promoting the pipeline in the region.
Austin urged the B.C. Liberals to state their position on Northern Gateway, saying Alberta is actively lobbying to ensure its interests are fully represented in Ottawa and before the review hearings.
"It's absolutely incredible to think the government of Alberta is actually involved as an interveners, working in the interest of their citizens and our government is nowhere to be seen on this issue," Austin said.
"I don't know what's going on with the B.C. Liberals," he said. "It's time that they came out and took a position and defended what they believe are the interests of British Columbians."
Terrace Mayor Dave Pernarowski, who says he personally doesn't support Northern Gateway, was one of two council members who voted against the motion to oppose the pipeline, arguing that Terrace should wait for the review process to conclude.
He said he now sees his job as working to ensure investors consider Terrace open for business, just not the oil pipeline business.
Terrace businessman Steve Smyth said the pipeline doesn't run through the city and there was no reason for council to publicly declare its opposition.
"It sends the entirely wrong message to the investment community," he said.
Enbridge, which has been working to sign 10-per-cent equity stake agreements with the estimated 43 First Nations along the pipeline's Alberta-to-B.C. route, could not be reached for comment.
Enbridge officials say they have up to 10 equity agreements with B.C. First Nations, but so far, only two First Nations who have publicly declared deals, with one being rescinded and the second under review.
Related on HuffPost:
Here are a few details of the major investment deal coming soon between Canada and China, as well as a list of what CBC chief political correspondent Terry Milewski calls a "small blizzard of incremental agreements," signed in Beijing. <em>With files from CBC</em>. (Diego Azubel-PoolGetty Images)
The Big One: FIPA
Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement (FIPA) between Canada and China the first "comprehensive economic agreement" between the two countries. In fact, what was signed by Harper and Chinese Premier Wen Jaibao in Beijing is not the final deal, but a declaration of intent: Now it must be legally reviewed and ratified by both governments, which for Canada will mean a debate in the House of Commons. Once both countries complete this process, it will need to be formally signed to take effect. This deal will protect Canadians investing in China, as well as Chinese investors in Canada, from "discriminatory and arbitrary practices." Once in place, investors can have more confidence that rules will be enforced and valuable business deals will be subject to predictable legal practices. Harper told reporters in Beijing he "absolutely" expected that it will make a "practical difference." "The agreement does not override existing Canadian law in regard to foreign investment and foreign investment review," Harper said. "Those laws remain in place." Negotiations for this agreement took 18 years, and key players in manufacturing, mining and the financial sectors were consulted to get to this stage. It's not unusual for Canada to have this kind of an agreement with a trading partner. FIPAs are in force with 24 other countries that trade with Canada, and active negotiations are underway with 10 other countries, according to the government's announcement. (Diego Azubel-PoolGetty Images)
The 'Blizzard' (By Sector):
(AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
- A new protocol, building on a 2010 agreement to restore Canada's market access to the Chinese market for Canadian beef following the 2003 BSE outbreak and resulting border closures, to allow industrial beef tallow (fat) to be imported for the first time in almost a decade. China used to be Canada's top export market for tallow ($31 million in 2002), and now Canada has a shot at a share of the $400 million in tallow China imports from around the world. - A memorandum of understanding (MOU) on canola research, to address a recent fungal disease in canola and rapeseed that threatens Canada's valuable trading relationship with China in canola. - On Tuesday, Chinese aquaculture feed company Tongwei announced it will increase its purchase of Canadian canola by up to $240 million per year by 2015. (DAVID BUSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
- A MOU between Natural Resources Canada and the Chinese Academy of Sciences to collaborate on scientific research on sustainable development of natural resources. The government release touts benefits including new technologies for resource firms, carbon emissions reduction strategies, reduced environmental impacts and natural hazards from resource development, and new opportunities for Canadian suppliers of equipment and services. - A MOU spelling out a "framework" for Parks Canada and China's state forestry administration to collaborate and share scientific expertise in the management of national parks, natural reserves and other protected areas. The agreement includes language around ecological restoration, conservation measures for endangered wildlife, wetlands development, and the preservation of forests and wetlands. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/47096398@N08/" target="_hplink">Flickr: eleephotography</a>)
- A continuation of the MOU, first signed in 2001 and renewed in 2006, on energy co-operation to "engage China on energy issues" through a Canada-China joint working group on energy co-operation, chaired by Natural Resources Canada and China's national energy administration, which is responsible for Chinese energy policy. The working group oversees joint research projects, exchange of expertise, and co-operation between energy companies in both countries, including the promotion of energy efficiency and renewables. It aims to both attract capital investment and improve market access for Canadian energy resources and technology. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Science and Technology
- Approval of seven projects, valued at $10 million, under the Canada-China framework for co-operation on science and technology and innovation, including: a diagnostic kit for acute kidney injuries, a wind energy seawater desalination system, a waste heat-recovery system to help oil refineries consume less fuel, new solar cells for renewable energy panels, a real-time multi-sensor navigational tracking device for hand-held devices, a blue-green algae bloom warning system and "next generation" large-scale geographic information systems. - Two more calls for proposals, valued at $18 million ($9 million from each country) for joint research under the same framework. These proposals are for the development of "innovations with high commercial potential" in the areas of human vaccines and clean automotive transportation. The Canada-China joint committee on science and technology, made up of individuals from industry, academia and government, sets the priorities and oversees these projects. (To date, 21 projects ranging from nuclear power to AIDS drugs, to clean technologies for pulp and paper have received some $28 million in funding.) (TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)
- A renewed MOU extending and modifying the Canada-China scholars' exchange program, which has seen 900 students travel between Canada and China since 1973. New eligibility rules and scholarships will be in place for the next round of competitions in 2012, including eight to 12 Canadian scholarships for Chinese professionals and 20 awards for Canadian university students. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/plutor/" target="_hplink">Flickr: Plutor</a>)