Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s is calling for a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s North Coast.
Trudeau outlined the directive in a mandate letter to Canada’s transport minister, Marc Garneau, on Friday. In it, he asked Garneau to formalize the agreement with three other ministries: fisheries, natural resources and environment.
Environmental leaders are applauding the move, saying it effectively kills Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline; a controversial project that has dominated B.C. headlines for years and was given approval by the Harper government in June of last year with 209 conditionals.
“This ban ends the dangerous Northern Gateway pipeline proposal” said Karen Mahon in a statement from ForestEthics, an environmental group that advocates for the protection of B.C.’s coast. “Without tankers, crude oil has no place to go, that means no pipelines, no oil trains moving tarsands to the northern B.C. coast.”
In October, eight B.C. First Nations went to federal court to in a legal attack to stop the project, and a total of 18 First Nations lawsuits were filed.
The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says he was pleased the Liberals fulfilled the tanker ban promise made in the election.
“Without a means to convey the bitumen to Asian markets — Enrbridge’s Northern Gateway’s proposal is literally dead in the water,” said Grand Chief Phillip on Friday.
Enbridge said in a statement that despite the mandate for a moratorium on tanker traffic, it is confident the federal government will consult with 26 of 45 First Nations that have signed on with the project about what impact a tanker ban could have on them and also a perceived economic boost for Western Canada.
“We have made significant process building support on the B.C. coast and along the pipeline corridor,” said spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht. “Along with the project’s aboriginal equity partners, we are looking forward to an opportunity to sit down with the new prime minister and his cabinet to provide an update on the progress of our project and our partnerships with First Nations and Métis people in Alberta and B.C.”
Still, Enbridge says the earliest the pipeline could be built is 2019. The moratorium would require legislation and would no doubt prompt debate in the House of Commons.
The moratorium does not apply, however, to LNG (liquified natural gas) tankers, which are expected to surge into the hundreds should the facilities in Prince Rupert and Kitimat get the green light.
With files from CBC News