Janet loves the orcas. At least that's what Enbridge would've had us believe in their now aborted Northern Gateway ads that featured the company's Vice President Janet Holder touting how safe oil tankers are for British Columbia's killer whales. Unfortunately, Janet must not remember what happened to killer whales 24 years ago after the Exxon Valdez grounded on Bligh Reef, or she wouldn't be willing to potentially subject animals she allegedly adores to miserable deaths like those suffered by Alaska's whales.
The phrase "world-class oil spill response and prevention" is a meaningless platitude. There is no such thing as world-class oil spill response and prevention. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver's announcement does little to diminish the risk or change the nature of shipping oil on the B.C. coast.
A tax loophole exempting tar sands pipeline operators from paying an eight-cent tax per barrel of oil they transport in the U.S. is costing the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund millions of dollars every year. With expected increases in tar sands oil production over the next five years, this loophole may have deprived U.S. citizens of $400-million dollars worth of critical oil-spill protection funds come 2017. Regardless of how many barrels of tar sands oil will be traversing U.S. soil, none should be exempt from spill liability taxes. If anything, corrosive diluted bitumen should be taxed more for the inherent dangers it presents.
As Saturday marked the 23rd anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, have we learned anything from the disaster? The answer appears to be a resounding "no," given the support to expand Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline and the dramatic escalation in oil tanker traffic that will accompany it.