The Heiltsuk Nation says it applauds the federal government for introducing the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act
MAY 12, 2017 - Transportation Minister Marc Garneau has introduced the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act in the House of Commons. For years, the Heiltsuk Nation has been leading the fight to ban tankers and says it applauds the federal government for introducing legislation that will ban most oil tankers from operating along British Columbia’s north coast. For the full press release from the Heiltsuk Tribal Council, click here.
The act will ban tankers from carrying crude oil and persistent oils from stopping, loading or unloading at any ports or marine installations from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the B.C.-Alaska border, including Haida Gwaii. Penalties for defying the ban are as high as $5 million, states CTV News, Vancouver Island.
"We look forward to building off the positive momentum of a tanker moratorium, and continuing to work with the federal government to endure that the Oceans Protection Plan delivers tangible results for our communities and for this coast," stated Heiltsuk Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett.
Last October and November, the Pacific Wild team supported coastal communities in documenting the impossible task of containing the spill of more than 100,000 litres of diesel and heavy oils from the American-owned tug, Nathan E Stewart, in the remote and untamed waters of Sea Forth Channel. Tanker barge vessels transiting to Alaska, like Nathan E Stewart that went aground near Bella Bella, carry four times the volume of the biggest shipments to northern B.C. communities and will still be permitted.
On November 29, 2016, the federal government announced that it will introduce legislation in spring 2017 to entrench an oil tanker ban on the north coast of British Columbia, and it provided preliminary details on the content of the legislation. In January 2017, West Coast Environmental Law Association released Will the Pacific North Coast Oil Tanker Ban Hold Water? A review of Canada’s Proposed New Legislation, addressesing the federal government’s proposal for oil tanker ban legislation in more detail and evaluating its strengths and weaknesses.
While this introduction is a positive bill to restrict the movement of oil off the north coast of British Columbia, DeSmog Canada writes in "Five Handy Facts About the Northern B.C. Oil Tanker Ban", that there is still work to be done as (1) the tanker ban won’t ban supertankers of refined oil from the coast; (2) those carrying 12,500 tons or less of oil are excluded from the ban; (3) the ban would not prevent another Nathan E. Stewart disaster from happening; (4) the south coast of B.C. near Vancouver and Victoria are not protected; (5) and lastly, this approach allows details of the ban to change and gives the federal government some flexibility to decide what to include or not include in the moratorium.