Anniversary Of Exxon Valdez Disaster Raises Questions For New Premier
VANCOUVER — As communities reflect on the impact of the Exxon Valdez spill that took place 22 years ago, British Columbians want to know whether the new Premier will act to protect B.C.’s northern coast from a similar catastrophe, say New Democrats.
"British Columbians overwhelmingly support the protection of our pristine northern coast from crude oil supertankers and the threat of oil spills," said New Democrat interim leader Dawn Black. "Premier Christy Clark should use the 22nd anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster to send a clear signal she gets these concerns and she’s serious about environmental protection.
"One of the steps Ms. Clark should take today is to lend her support for a ban on oil tankers that Enbridge plans to bring into B.C.’s northern waters."
New Democrat environment critic Rob Fleming said a similar spill in B.C. would not only hurt the environment, it would also have a devastating economic impact on B.C.’s $1-billion sport and commercial fishing industry and its $1.5-billion wilderness tourism sector.
“Ms. Clark talks about creating jobs and putting families first. If she means it, she needs to act today to protect the northern communities from a disaster that would be devastating to our environment and could impact thousands of jobs,” said Fleming. “The Union of B.C. Municipalities and more than 80 First Nations are opposing this project. Ms. Clark must stop ignoring their concerns and get on side."
Black and Fleming also noted that many British Columbians are concerned about Premier Clark's close relationship with Gwyn Morgan, who donated to her campaign before becoming the new premier's transition team advisor. Morgan, a founding CEO of EnCana, is a well-connected player in Alberta’s tar sands industry.
"One of Ms. Clark’s biggest donors and closest advisors Gwyn Morgan has strong ties with the oil and gas industry,” said Fleming. “And people of B.C. are right to be concerned.”
“Now’s the time to reassure British Columbians she’s going to put their interest ahead of B.C. Liberal friends," Black said. “Ms. Clark can start by making an important commitment today to protect B.C.’s north coast and the environment.”
B.C.’s New Democrats support the protection of B.C.’s wild northern coast, have proposed an environmental plan that would reinvest carbon tax revenue in transit and climate change initiatives, create green jobs, and offer legislated protection for species at risk.