Harper out of step with majority of British Columbians on oil tankers
For Immediate Release, May 5, 2011
VICTORIA / OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper is seriously out of step with the vast majority of British Columbians on the issue of oil tanker traffic through the Great Bear Rainforest, the Sierra Club said today.
“Prime Minister Harper is dead wrong in his assessment that the people of B.C. do not support calls by other political parties for a ban on crude oil tankers along Canada’s west coast,” said Sierra Club BC spokesperson Caitlyn Vernon. “Opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway project is strong, united and rapidly growing.”
Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway project would pipe Alberta tar sands crude to B.C.’s Port of Kitimat, and ship it to Asia in super tankers that would navigate the perilous channels and inlets of the Great Bear Rainforest—the world’s largest intact temperate coastal rainforest.
“Opposition to the proposed Enbridge pipeline and tankers in the Great Bear Rainforest will not go away, regardless of what government is in power,” said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada. “Nor has the urgent need to address global warming lessened in importance.”
One of Prime Minister Harper’s first comments to the press following Monday’s election was that statements made by opposition parties about West Coast transportation and the energy sector “simply did not reflect the needs and concerns” of British Columbians.
Tanker traffic along B.C.’s coast and through the Great Bear Rainforest is staunchly opposed by Coastal First Nations, the Union of B.C. Municipalities, 61 First Nations from the Fraser River Watershed, Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebecois MPs from across Canada, and dozens of grassroots and environmental groups. Polling shows that more than three-quarters of British Columbians are opposed to oil tanker traffic along B.C.’s north coast.
“Oil spilled from just one super tanker would release up to one-half of the oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Vernon. “Tanker traffic would threaten not just Great Bear Rainforest ecosystems and wildlife but also the livelihoods of tens of thousands of British Columbians.”
Sierra Club BC played an instrumental role in achieving the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements of 2006, which set aside two million hectares of new protected areas and committed the BC government and First Nations to manage the rest using ecosystem-based management, a new approach to lighter-touch forestry.
The Great Bear Rainforest is one of the best carbon vaults on the planet, contains abundant salmon rivers and rare spirit bears that live nowhere else in the world, and is a source of culture and livelihoods for First Nations and other coastal communities.
Caitlyn Vernon, Great Bear Rainforest Campaigner, Sierra Club BC: (250) 896-3500
Sarah Cox, Communications Director: Sierra Club BC: (250) 812-1762