It’s time for BC to use the tools in the toolbox

Premier Horgan has the power to defend our coast

photo: Jamie Grant

The Trans Mountain project is facing serious challenges. The federal government is intent on running over opposition. It’s time for BC to use the tools in their toolbox.

The recent decision by the Federal Court of Appeal quashing the federal approval of the Trans Mountain expansion has created serious challenges for this tanker and pipeline project. But with short timelines and a process clearly designed to get to yes, the federal government has made it clear they will keep pushing, no matter the risk to BC’s coast and our iconic southern resident orcas. But that decision also creates an opportunity for the BC government to do what it said it would: use the tools in its toolbox to defend our interests and our coast. It’s time for Premier Horgan to do what he promised, and it’s up to us to hold him accountable. BC needs to take the following three steps:

  1. Exit the Equivalency Agreement with the National Energy Board. The previous BC government gave BC’s power to assess Trans Mountain to the National Energy Board in a 2010 agreement. With the Federal Court’s decision, BC has the legal right to exit this agreement.

  2. Join the Squamish Nation’s challenge of the current BC Environmental Assessment Certificate. BC must join the Squamish Nation’s challenge of the BC Environmental Assessment Certificate in BC Court of Appeal. A joint argument has a stronger likelihood of winning, which would result in the BC assessment being made invalid. It also furthers the government’s commitment to reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

  3. Assess the project under the new environmental assessment rules. New rules for environmental assessments come into place next year. A made-in-BC assessment would have the power to look at a host of under studied issues: human health impacts, up and downstream climate impacts, the behaviour of bitumen if spilled in the Salish Sea and the effectiveness of existing oil spill resources at removing it, and more.

Meaningful action will only happen if we ask for it. The province faces pressure from fossil fuel producers and the federal government. These are powerful voices, and they are used to getting their way. It’s going to take all of us, together, to make it clear to the BC government that they must act.

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