A proposed ban on large oil tankers off much of British Columbia’s northern coast hit a setback after it failed to get the support of a Canadian Senate committee.
The Senate’s Transport and Telecommunication Committee, in a split 6-6 vote, recommended against the passage of C-48: The Oil Tanker Moratorium Act.
“I agree that the sensitive coastal areas of northern B.C. deserve and demand environmental protection. I didn’t think C-48 did the job – but I was looking for middle ground. I didn’t find it,” Paula Simons, an independent Senator from Alberta who sits on the committee.
It will now be up to the full Senate to decide the fate of the legislation. It would ban tankers with more than 12,500 metric tons of crude or persistent oil from loading and unloading from the northern end of Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border, including the fast-growing Port of Prince Rupert.
“There remains strategic advantage to having an option for a low-cost route to Asia for crude oil and potentially for a low-cost import route for condensates,” Leach said. “Routing all of that potential traffic through the Port of Vancouver seems a sub-optimal solution.”Andrew Leach, associate professor, University of Alberta school of business
The legislation, which already passed the House of Commons, was envisaged to protect the British Columbia coast from oil spills. But critics say it would damage Canada’s already beleaguered oil industry by creating barriers to exporting oil.
The bill has been widely unpopular in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the heart of Canada’s oil sands industry, since it would create barriers to getting its product to Asia. The industry has already been hit hard by the decline in global oil prices.
Andrew Leach, an associate professor at the University of Alberta’s school of business, told the Senate Transport Committee in April that the ban would remove future options to export oil, since ports such as Prince Rupert would be left out.
“There remains strategic advantage to having an option for a low-cost route to Asia for crude oil and potentially for a low-cost import route for condensates,” Leach said. “Routing all of that potential traffic through the Port of Vancouver seems a sub-optimal solution.”