Tar Sand Pipeline Politics in British Columbia

via Paul Sanborn, promoted from comments:

Meanwhile, two other tar sands pipelines have become big issues in the final stretch of campaigning for the May 14th British Columbia provincial election. Both leading parties have done a careful dance around them, but the outcome may have important implications for the Keystone debate.

Even in crass economic terms, there is nothing in it for BC to allow expanded pipeline capacity to the west coast, along with the resulting increase in tanker traffic. Despite rising public opposition, the incumbent right-wing Liberal government has sat on the fence, hiding behind five fictitious conditions needed before supporting the northern pipeline route, proposed by Enbridge (of Kalamazoo fame). The main opposition party, the mildly leftish New Democrats (NDP), have taken a strong position against the Enbridge project. Although final approval supposedly rests with the federal government, the political reality is that opposition from a freshly elected BC government would make the Enbridge project pretty much dead in the water.

Concurrently, Kinder-Morgan (spawn of the late lamented Enron) is talking up a major export-oriented expansion of its existing Transmountain oil pipeline, which terminates near Vancouver. The sore point for most residents would be the resulting daily supertanker shipments via the Port of Vancouver. A formal proposal to regulators has not been filed yet, and for this reason, the NDP resisted staking out a position on what it characterized to be a hypothetical project. The fairly weak argument was becoming increasingly unsatisfactory for many NDP supporters, and only the tiny Green Party had clearly opposed both projects.

Sensing a shift in the winds, NDP leader Adrian Dix announced on Earth Day that he would not support transformation of Vancouver into a major oil-shipping port. While the NDP supporter base would have probably welcomed this change months ago, the cautious Dix was wary of being seen to oppose all resource development projects. (In fact, the NDP has shown fairly enthusiastic support for proposed LNG export projects.) Predictably, the right-wing media dumped all over Dix for this last-minute conversion, but it appears to have done no damage to his party’s lead in the polls, which ranges up to 22% in the most recent surveys.

In one of those delightful ironies of politics, the current Canadian ambassador (and full-time tar sands shill) in Washington is Gary Doer, former NDP Premier of the province of Manitoba.

Recent coverage from independent media at:

http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2013/04/22/greens-kinder-morgan-NDP/ and

http://www.vancouverobserver.com/politics/commentary/bc-election-has-global-energy-implications-and-likely-making-harper-twitchy

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