West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones
North Vancouver MP Johnathan Wilkinson
Burnaby North-Seymour MP Terry Beech
Last week, the prime minister announced the government’s decision to dismiss the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project, to formalize a moratorium on oil tankers on the north coast of B.C. for ships carrying crude or persistent oils cargo, and to approve the Trans Mountain Expansion Project with 157 binding conditions.
We read with interest last Monday’s op-ed by NDP MPs from B.C. focusing on the Trans Mountain approval. Unfortunately, the article neglected to include significant information — information critical for British Columbians to effectively consider a number of important issues.
In January, the federal government implemented interim principles that would guide environmental assessments in the near term. Central to these principles are robust consultations that go well beyond the requirements of the NEB as well as the consideration of direct and upstream greenhouse gas impacts.
In making the recent Trans Mountain decision, our government took into consideration:
- the National Energy Board’s report on the project;
- the report of the ministerial panel established by the minister of natural resources to conduct additional public consultation;
- Environment and Climate Change Canada’s assessment of upstream greenhouse gas emissions;
- the views of the public gathered through the ministerial panel and an online questionnaire; and
- input received through enhanced Crown consultations with Indigenous peoples.
The scale of additional consultations held — along with the 1,600 Canadians who participated in the NEB hearings — was significant. Consultations were held with 117 potentially affected Indigenous groups; 44 public meetings were held in 11 different communities; we received more than 35,000 questionnaire submissions and more than 20,000 e-mail submissions.
In making any major public-policy decision, we know that the government has a responsibility to consider and assess potential risks and concerns as well as potential benefits.
Important concerns were raised by residents of the Lower Mainland with regard to the Trans Mountain project, many of which were addressed in the decision announced on Nov. 29.
The recently announced Ocean Protections Plan addresses concerns relating to spill prevention and response, including an enhanced Coast Guard role. The Coastal Restoration Fund and wild salmon policies will make substantive improvements to the marine environment and the creeks and rivers that feed into the Salish Sea. Our government has committed to a comprehensive recovery strategy for the South Resident Orca pod — something that is required irrespective of a decision relating to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Our government undertook significant consultations with Indigenous communities and invested in efforts to address concerns raised during these consultations. In addition, greenhouse gas emissions associated with upstream oil development are accounted for and fit within our government’s climate action plan, the Pan Canadian Framework on Climate Change and Clean Growth.
The Trans Mountain project will generate significant benefits for British Columbians and Canadians. These include:
Providing a transportation mechanism for getting oil more safely to market vs. rail;
- $4.5 billion in government revenues generated over 20 years;
- $300 million in impact benefit agreements for First Nations communities;
- $6.8 billion in capital investments;
- The creation of more than 15,000 jobs during construction and 440 permanent positions;
- Enabling strategic access to new markets for Canadian resources.
Over the past several months, we have listened to ensure a clear understanding of the most significant concerns relating to the Trans Mountain proposal.
The prime minister and our government have been very clear that economic progress and environmental sustainability can be achieved together. We have made this decision in the context of historic investments in the health of our oceans and in science research and an ambitious and far-reaching climate strategy. We have been working and are continuing to work to ensure that the questions and concerns of British Columbians are addressed. There remains much to be done, but as British Columbians, we are united in working together to ensure that we fully protect our air, soil and water.