Environment critic says NDP Trans Mountain fight moves goalposts on investors

By James Peters
August 10, 2017 - 3:41pm

KAMLOOPS — The BC Liberal environment critic says the NDP government is driving away investment with its vow to fight the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Earlier today, Environment Minister George Heyman announced the government has hired a lawyer to advise it on the fight against the project.

Heyman says the province will also seek intervenor status in legal challenges to the project's National Energy Board approval.

Environment Critic Peter Milobar says the government isn't measuring the impact this will have on the province's investment climate.

"A lot of these processes are well underway. A lot of the legal challenges are well underway. If this is just a simple case of nothing more than announcing that the government has hired a lawyer to do a bit of window-dressing to appease the Greens, it is concerning."

"Minister Heyman indicating they want to keep changing the environmental process, and doing these type of piecemeal announcements at the same time will send a chilling message to people in resource extraction industries wondering, if they start a project application now, are the goalposts going to continually change? That's very concerning to the thousands upon thousands of jobs that rely on those types of industries."

Heyman has indicated the goverment will fight the project on the legal basis of inadequate First Nations consultation.

Milobar says that's a matter for the courts to decide.

"They seem to have just unilaterally decide the First Nations consultations have been incomplete, when there are other First Nations that are quite happy with how things have proceeded. Obviously, there are some that are challenging that in court, and that would be more appropriate for the courts to decide than for the government to unilaterally make that declaration."

As for environmental concerns around the Trans Mountain project, Milobar says he's confident in safeguards already in place.

"Sometimes people hear 'sevenfold increase in tanker traffic' and they think 'sevenfold increase of all ships moving into and out of Vancouver.' The reality is, tankers are a lot different than the Exxon Valdez days nowadays in the world, and a lot safer. There have been a lot of safeguards put in place in terms of the expanded transportation as this project proceeds moving forward. I think you still have to look at things on an overall basis, and balance it out with the real risk out there versus an easy soundbite."

The pipeline runs right through the middle of Milobar's Kamloops-North Thompson riding, and he says resource projects are important to the economies of Interior communities.

"One has to question, what project is next? We're already seeing attempts to potentially shut down Site 'C.' One has to wonder where in the Interior of BC the NDP are talking about all of these jobs that they're planning on creating. So far, all they keep announcing are ways to slow down and hinder the economy, not expand and grow it."

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