Today I sent Rachel Notley an open letter inviting her to participate in a public debate to discuss the merits of the Trans Mountain pipeline and the evidence that underpins the decision to approve it. I also asked that it be televised so that every British Columbian who wants to know the facts can hear them live and unscripted.
Below I reproduce the open letter and media release.
December 5th, 2016
The Honourable Premier Rachel Notley
307 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2B6
Dear Premier Notley,
British Columbians believe that economic development and environmental stewardship go hand-in-hand. We are home to one of the most pristine coastlines in the world – and we value it deeply. The approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline is perceived by many as a betrayal of these values, leaving us profoundly concerned about the risks our coastlines now face.
Last week, you announced your plans to come to British Columbia to market the merits of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. You looked forward to being able to make the case to British Columbians as to why you believe that the federal approval of this pipeline is a good decision. You noted that it was important for you to inform those British Columbians who link the pipeline to increasing greenhouse gas emissions and subsequent global warming, that in fact your climate change leadership plan has very effectively delinked these issues. If those are your honest intentions, I respectfully request that you hold these conversations publicly and not behind closed doors.
In the spirit of that request, I would like to invite you to a public debate where we can discuss the merits of this pipeline and the evidence that underpins the decision to approve it. I would also ask that it be televised so that every British Columbian who wants to know the facts can hear them live and unscripted.
I sought intervention status in the Trans Mountain National Energy Board hearing both as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia and as a scientist with a PhD in atmospheric, oceanic and climate physics/applied mathematics. As an MLA, I represent the constituency of Oak Bay-Gordon Head, which is located along the Trans Mountain tanker sailing route on the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island.
As a scientist, I served as Lansdowne Professor and Canada Research Chair in climate modeling and analysis in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria, where I worked for almost 25 years. I have been a Lead Author on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th scientific assessments and have authored and co-authored over 220 peer-reviewed, scientific papers. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Throughout the hearing process, I have applied my scientific expertise, particularly in physical oceanography and modelling, to evaluate the evidence provided in the National Energy Board application. I reviewed thousands of pages of Trans Mountain’s application and I asked them over 600 questions to test their assumptions.
Based on the evidence Trans Mountain presented, I can say unequivocally that we do not have the ability to clean up an oil spill. Likewise, there is no scientific credibility to the claim that we will be able to build this pipeline and meet our greenhouse gas reduction targets or honour our commitments made under the Paris Agreement.
You are asking British Columbians to take on significant economic and environmental risk without giving us a real opportunity to have ours concerns heard. Hundreds of British Columbians were already excluded from the National Energy Board hearing process. Those who could participate were denied the right to orally cross-examine Trans Mountain on their evidence. Now they are rightfully concerned that backroom political decisions are being made against their wishes and interests.
If British Columbians are going to be asked to consent to a 580% increase in oil tanker traffic, they deserve to hear a full and open debate – not just media interviews and summaries of closed-door meetings. They deserve to hear you make your case, and to have your evidence tested. Until a proper dialogue has taken place on these topics, I do not believe there is any way for us to move forward.
My contact information is listed above. I invite you to please contact my office at your earliest convenience. My team would be happy to organize a public meeting for one of your upcoming trips to British Columbia.
With best wishes,
Dr. Andrew Weaver, OBC, FRSC, FAGU, FAMS, FAAAS, FCMOS
MLA Oak Bay – Gordon Head
Leader, BC Green Party
For immediate release
Dec. 5, 2016
Weaver challenges Notley to debate on Kinder Morgan
VICTORIA B.C. – Climate scientist and B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver has written to Alberta NDP premier Rachel Notley, challenging her to a public debate on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Weaver’s challenge is in response to Notley’s plan to visit British Columbia several times to “sell” the pipeline project to British Columbians.
“In the last couple weeks we have seen a number of politicians tell British Columbians why the pipeline is good for them, without actually listening to what we are saying. If Premier Notley wants to come to British Columbia to ‘sell’ us on this pipeline, then her visit needs to be about more than media interviews and backroom meetings. I am asking for a public forum that allows us to have an open and honest debate about what the evidence really says.
“I have heard both Premier Notley and Prime Minister Trudeau make claims that the evidence shows we can safely manage this pipeline. As both a scientist and the only BC MLA to serve as an intervenor in the National Energy Board hearings, I can say unequivocally that there is no evidence that supports the notion that we are prepared to respond to a heavy oil spill on our coast. It is critical that British Columbians are able to witness and take part in an honest debate about the evidence.
Weaver’s letter requests that the debate be televised so that British Columbians who want the facts “can hear them live and unscripted”.
“Part of the reason people are so concerned is that they have been shut out of this process. Hundreds of people were denied the ability to participate in the National Energy Board hearings. Those who could participate were denied the right to orally cross-examine Trans Mountain on their evidence. And now it looks an awful lot like political calculation and backroom horse-trading are ramming this pipeline through, despite serious concerns that have been raised by of British Columbians.
“You cannot address those concerns through closed-door meetings and media interviews. Only an open, unscripted debate will give British Columbians the opportunity to hear their concerns truly represented and responded to.”
A specific date will be set for the debate pending a response from Premier Notley.
Andrew Weaver received intervenor status in the National Energy Board hearing on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project both as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia and as a scientist with a doctorate in applied mathematics and with specialty in physical oceanography and atmospheric and climate science. As an MLA, he represents the constituency of Oak Bay-Gordon Head, which is located along the Trans Mountain Tanker Sailing Route on the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island. He was the only B.C. MLA with intervenor status in the hearing process.
As a scientist, Weaver served as Lansdowne Professor and Canada Research Chair in climate modeling and analysis in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria, where he worked for over 20 years. He was a lead author on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th scientific assessments and has authored and coauthored over 200 peer-reviewed, scientific papers. Weaver is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Throughout the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain NEB hearings, he applied his scientific expertise, particularly in physical oceanography and modelling.
Mat Wright, Press Secretary, Office of Andrew Weaver, MLA
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