In a press conference on September 4th, Elizabeth May MP (Saanich and Gulf islands) and Andrew Weaver MLA (Oak Bay – Gordon Head) presented information that the federal government is moving forward with a Kitimat region research program, while the BC government has said no to the Northern Gateway Project.
The Federal Government is moving forward over the next two years with a $100 million plus, ‘Complementary Measures Project’ (now called ‘World Class’) to research and model the complex waterways in the Kitimat and Hecate Straights region. In essence this is a federal government subsidy to the Northern Gateway Project, as they are unable to satisfy basic safety, environmental and regulatory requirements. In fact documents from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans identified that: “Behaviour models specific to dilbit spills do not exist, and existing commercial models for conventional oil do not allow parameter specific modifications.”
On the federal level contrary to what Stephen Harper has said about awaiting the evidence and panel results, the Government of Canada has been pushing ahead with spending over $100 million to support what should be industry based research. This comes at a time of major cuts to science funding for climate change, marine contaminants and ELA.
In its thorough submission to the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel the British Columbia Government stated: “the Province is not able to support approval of the project, and submits that its concerns respecting NG’s ability to respond to a spill should be given serious consideration by the JRP”. Should a spill occur, the research, data and evaluation of the effects of diluted bitumen (dilbit) on both land, fresh water and marine environments are simply not available, neither are the procedures, protocols, equipment and expertise that will be required to respond.