Western Canada Marine Response is the only Transport Canada-certified company on the B.C. coast and respond to a variety of spill calls. (Black Press/File)

Western Canada Marine Response is the only Transport Canada-certified company on the B.C. coast and respond to a variety of spill calls. (Black Press/File)

Letter: B.C. Green Party leader pleased with spill response announcement

Weaver responds to government spill response measures

Editor,

I am responding to Minister George Heyman’s Jan. 30 announcement that the government is proposing additional measures to protect our environment and coastal waters from heavy oil spills.

I am pleased to see Minister Heyman putting evidence and science front and centre in government decision-making where it belongs.

In particular, I welcome the independent scientific advisory panel that will be established to assess whether regulations can mitigate the impact of heavy oil spills in our precious coastal waters.

Our coastal waters provide significant economic activity for our province and the entire country, be it from tourism, fishing or real estate, and they are of great cultural significance to First Nations.

It is essential that they be adequately protected.

For several years, my office participated extensively in the National Energy Board (NEB) hearing process for the TransMountain pipeline.

We presented evidence from two independent expert assessments that validated our evidence by making it abundantly clear we simply do not know enough to properly assess the risk and potential damages associated with a diluted bitumen spill in the Salish Sea

I look forward to the new panel providing complete, robust and accurate information on this matter to the minister that reinforces what which we already know – there is no way currently to adequately respond to a spill of diluted bitumen.

Furthermore, I am pleased the government will examine important issues like response times, geographically specific response needs for our diverse province and compensation for loss of public and cultural use of land, resources or public amenities.

British Columbia has a rich history of sustainable natural resource development, but it must be done in a way that benefits British Columbians. We must ensure that we are not putting our economy and our communities at risk.

I was the only MLA to intervene as an individual in the NEB hearings on the TransMountain pipeline expansion.

My office was an active participant in the NEB hearing process and submitted a comprehensive report outlining major issues with the spill response regime.

Adam Olsen, now Green Party MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, also intervened as a member of the Tsartlip First Nation.

Andrew Weaver

B.C. Green Party Leader