Alberta and B.C. announced they’ve reached an agreement today to satisfy B.C.’s five conditions for supporting oil pipeline development in the province.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has also agreed to sign on to Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s national energy strategy. 

The announcement comes on the heels of all-night meetings between Alberta and B.C. officials. The condition in question was the fifth — B.C.’s call for a greater share of economic benefits from the pipeline in exchange for the environmental risks borne by the province.

However, it appears that condition has been punted to negotiations between B.C. and industry.

In a statement, Redford said: “If the government of B.C. decides to place additional charges on industry that go beyond the federal and provincial restrictions on responsible resource development, this is not something for the government of Alberta to negotiate — it is for the government of B.C. to negotiate directly with producers and industry.”

In reaction to the announcement, Living Oceans executive director Karen Wristen issued a statement saying Redford’s signature on Clark’s conditions is merely symbolic as Redford is unable to satisfy the five conditions (successful completion of an environmental review, “world-leading” marine spill response and land oil-spill prevention, addressing aboriginal legal requirements, treaty rights and opportunities and a “fair share” of economic benefits).

“It really means very little, when we consider that Premier Clark just released a report by Nuka Research that makes it clear that her condition concerning ‘effective oil spill response' cannot be met,” Wristen said. “Quite apart from the impossibility of cleaning up spilled bitumen, there remains the completely unaddressed opposition of First Nations and a majority of British Columbians to seeing supertankers on the B.C. coast.”

Beyond that, there’s the discrepancy between the “five conditions” announced 15 months ago, commonly referred to by Premier Christy Clark, and the province’s final argument to the federal panel reviewing Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project, which was filed just five months ago.

In the province’s final argument — a 100-page report rejecting Enbridge’s proposal and submitted two weeks after the spring election — the B.C. government is much more precise about the hurdles facing proposals to ship oil off B.C.’s coast.

For example, while B.C.’s five conditions call for “world-leading” oil spill response, its final argument clarifies the province’s goal for “effective response” and recognizes effective response isn’t possible in many cases.

Citing an Enbridge witness, the province states: “With respect to…most open ocean spills, no oil from a spill is recovered; the oil remains in the environment.”

Another important point the province makes in its final argument is that the public process regarding Enbridge's review is complete. No changes to the proposal can be probed and tested in a democratic fashion.

With that in mind, the real question to ask today is: given the province's final argument that thoroughly refused Enbridge's project and signaled the end of the public process, how can Premier Christy Clark justify changing her tune five months later after closed-door negotiations?

Image Credit: BC Gov via Flickr

Like a kid in a candy store
When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta this spring. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

Our journalism is powered by people just like you. We never take corporate ad dollars, or put this public-interest information behind a paywall. Here’s the thing: we need 300 new members to join this month to meet our budget. Will you join the pod of Narwhals that make a difference by helping us uncover some of the most important stories of our time?
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When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta this spring. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

Our journalism is powered by people just like you. We never take corporate ad dollars, or put this public-interest information behind a paywall. Here’s the thing: we need 300 new members to join this month to meet our budget. Will you join the pod of Narwhals that make a difference by helping us uncover some of the most important stories of our time?

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The Narwhal’s reporters uncover energy stories that send shockwaves throughout Canada. But they can’t do it alone — we need to add 300 new members this month to meet our budget. Will you support crucial climate reporting that makes an impact?