Premier Christy Clark's recent posturing over the proposed Enbridge pipeline is all fine and dandy, but her threats to quash the project if B.C. doesn't get its share of the oil profits are likely empty at best.
The question is: Will B.C. even have a say in whether the pipeline goes through?
Sure, there are provincial permits needed for the project to go ahead, but could the premier really stop the pipeline? Clark and the Liberals missed the deadline to sign up to present evidence to the joint review panel for the Enbridge hearing, and projects reviewed by the National Energy Board don't get a separate provincial review process. But that's all irrelevant anyway, because a few months ago, the Conservatives quietly updated their "economic action plan"
website and happened to mention that they would now have the final say in cases rejected by the National Energy Board. That's right - the final decision is left in the hands of the Conservatives, who seem awfully friendly with big oil these days. The whole point of the National Energy Board was to have an independent federal body to regulate these kinds of projects while considering Canada's national interests. And what does this have to do with Burnaby? Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain line, the only line currently running oil products to the West Coast, ends right here in our backyard.
The company is trying to corner the rising demand for crude in Asia and wants to more than double pipeline capacity from 300,000 to 750,000 barrels of oil a day - that's more than Enbridge's proposed 525,000 barrels for the Northern Gateway project.
Kinder Morgan will apply for project approval in the next couple of years, and what plays out with Enbridge could be a harbinger of what's to come for Kinder Morgan. So if the National Energy Board rejects Kinder Morgan's plan and says, "No, we don't want hundreds of tankers in the Burrard Inlet, the risk of an oil spill is too great, and exporting diluted bitumen to China is not in the best interests of Canadian energy security," the Conservatives can say, "Too bad, B.C.
Suck it up. We think this is great for the economy."
Something to think about next time we head to the polls, perhaps?