Oil Spills Can Be Kinder Positive

Tanker filling up with oil from Alberta Tarsands in Burrard inlet

When an oil tanker spills its load, there are positive as well as negative effects, including "business and employment opportunities". At least, that's the argument put forth by those pushing for expansion of the Alberta tarsands.

Below is a section of Kinder Morgan's submission to Canada's National Energy Board for expanding its Trans Mountain pipeline .

"Marine spills can have both positive and negative effects on local and regional economies over the short- and long-term. Spill response and clean-up creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions, and clean-up service providers, particularly in those communities where spill response equipment is, or would be, staged... positive spill-related economic effects were documented for major spill clean-up areas following EVOS (the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill)" Page 8A–615 Economy

The full document puts the case for a tripling of capacity, from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day, of the 1,150 km pipeline from the Alberta tarsands to the British Columbian Coast.

The pipeline would see an increase in 5 to 34 tankers per month passing from the Westridge terminal in Burnaby (pictured above) along Vancouver and Vancouver Island's already busy coastal waters.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline and the Northern Gateway in Northern BC have become rallying points in BC. They represent a huge expansion of Canada's carbon footprint, as well as a clear threat to coastal waters from oil spills.

Kinder Morgan was seen as a pivotal issue in the provincial election last year, after NDP leader Adrian Dix appeared to change his stance from saying he would wait for an environmental review before deciding whether to support the project, to announcing mid-election campaign that he could not support the pipeline project. It precipitated a historic loss for the NDP, that confounded the predictions of pollsters and pundits.

The NEB hearings are expected to start in January 2015. Amazingly, the federal review body has barred climate change experts from participating in the assessment process.

However, Andrew Weaver was given intervenor status - to share his expertise on the behaviour of diluted bitumen when spilled and as a representative of the constituents of his coastal riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head.