Islands Trust opposes pipeline project

Potential for oil spills a concern for Gulf Island communities.

The Islands Trust council has voted to oppose in principle oil pipeline projects that will expand oil export by barge and tanker from Canada’s West Coast.

“Our communities are deeply concerned about the risk of oil spills that could irrevocably damage coastal environments, economies, and communities,” said Sheila Malcolmson, council chairwoman. “Islanders have been vocal about their desire to see trust council take a stand against new oil pipelines leading to British Columbia’s coast. Islands Trust council feels strongly that the proposed expansion in oil tanker and barge traffic poses an unacceptable risk to our quality of life and the incredible diversity of life in our waters.”

Concern about tanker traffic and oil spills is not new for the council, said Malcolmson.

“As early as 1983, the Islands Trust policy statement included a policy to oppose increased oil tanker traffic in and adjacent to Trust waters and to support measures to reduce such traffic,” she said.

In a related decision, council asked Malcolmson to write to the federal Minister of Natural Resources to support the phasing out of crude oil export from Canada’s West Coast by tanker and barge as part of a national energy strategy.

The letter builds on a June 2011 council request that the provincial and federal governments consider developing a low carbon energy strategy that strengthens both Canada’s environment and economy.

During discussion about whether to oppose the Kinder Morgan Canada’s Trans Mountain Pipeline twinning project and Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project, council members expressed concerns about peak oil and climate change. They felt Canada should focus on renewable energies and domestic energy security instead of shipping unrefined oil products while importing refined oils.

At its June meeting, council also directed the Islands Trust executive committee to represent the Trust’s legislated mandate to preserve and protect the Trust area during Kinder Morgan public engagement processes related to the proposed pipeline expansion.