What could Enbridge say to be convincing?
Enbridge spilled more than 3 million litres of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in July 2010.
As a father to a four-year-old girl and a busy professional, I don’t have a ton of variety in my leisure reading these days. That’s probably why I’m writing another blog comparing current events and one of my daughter’s favourite stories, the Three Little Pigs.
Last night, after reading my daughter her favourite bedtime story and tucking her into bed, I turned on the TV to see Premier Christy Clark on the news putting Enbridge on notice over their handling of pipeline safety issues. It was amazing how much the two stories resembled each other. Clark was sounding like the Big Bad Wolf with lots of huffing and puffing. Meanwhile, Enbridge was trying to sound like the pig in the brick house, when in reality their house is made of straw.
Until this statement, Clark had been dodging questions about Enbridge’s West Coast oil tanker and pipeline proposal. Although Clark came across as being tough on Enbridge, her statements were more about optics than substance.
Clark indicated Enbridge “should be deeply embarrassed about what unfolded [in the Kalamazoo spill],” stating: “If they think they’re going to operate like that in British Columbia – forget it.” Later she added, “… Enbridge has some pretty important questions to answer, because the results of that report are absolutely unacceptable. That kind of spill that happened in Michigan is not acceptable in British Columbia.”
While it’s nice that Clark is finally asking sharper questions of Enbridge, one wonders what answers from Enbridge would convince her that building a pipeline across British Columbia and bringing oil supertankers into the Great Bear Rainforest is worth the risk?
If Enbridge merely promises — once again — to implement state-of-the-art safety measures, will Clark ignore the evidence and support their proposal? If Enbridge promises never to wait 17 hours to shut down a pipe spewing oil, will Clark jump on board? If Enbridge promises new technological fixes, or more oversight, will Clark believe them and endorse their proposal?
Clark’s statements beg the question: is there anything Enbridge can say that will convince British Columbia their oil tanker and pipeline proposal is worth the risk? For most British Columbians the answer is a resounding no. It was “no” before the release of the U.S National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) scathing report on Enbridge’s Michigan spill. After the release of a report like this that condemns Enbridge – with words like “Keystone Cops”, “deficient”, “inadequate”, “pervasive organizational failures” and “complete breakdown of safety”– the strength and volume of the no is only going to increase.
Most British Columbians are not willing to accept promises from Enbridge. The people of B.C. are not willing to conduct an experiment or give a second chance to a company that the U.S. NTSB condemned for its “culture of deviance.”
Given Enbridge’s poor record and shattered credibility, now is the time for British Columbia’s political leaders to stand up for the province’s people, communities and coast. All that will come out of the ongoing regulatory hearings are more empty promises from Enbridge about how they will do better. But promises aren’t sufficient.
NDP leader Adrian Dix has realized this and has publicly committed using the province’s authority, if and when he forms government, to stop Enbridge’s proposal. Dix has listened to the overwhelming opposition of British Columbians and is taking a strong stand.
Progressive conservatives like Tom Siddon, former ICBC CEO Robyn Allan and former SoCred minister Rafe Mair have all called for the BC Liberals to take a stand on this issue.
Now’s the time to be a leader Premier Clark. Stop huffing and puffing and stand up against Enbridge’s oil tanker pipeline proposal. Put the interests of the people, communities and lands and waters of British Columbia first.