OUR VIEW: British Columbians nervous about Enbridge

We say: Can there be enough compensation for what’s at risk?

Premier Christy Clark has outlined British Columbia’s conditions for approving the Enbridge corporation’s Northern Gateway pipeline.

And subsequently, she has gotten into a spat with Alberta Premier Alison Redford over her demands. The most contentious issue is B.C.’s demands for a fair share of the revenue from the pipeline. A fair share of the revenue – however that is defined – is the least British Columbians should get from this pipeline. If indeed, this pipeline should actually be allowed to go ahead.

Clark’s conditions essentially signal that the B.C. government is willing to approve the project but wants to benefit from it monetarily. But is there enough revenue to compensate for the potential damage a spill from the pipeline could cause anywhere along its course from the Rockies to the sea?

Premier Clark is right when she says that B.C. takes all the risk and gets little of the economic benefit while Alberta gets all the benefit and little of the risk. Clark’s conditions also assert that stringent environmental conditions and extensive reviews must be in place before B.C. approves the project.

Premier Redford, meanwhile, is tossing up a red herring by claiming B.C.’s fiscal demands will rewrite the rules of confederation by circumventing the transfer payment system that redistributes wealth throughout the country from have provinces to have-not provinces. She also states that there are stringent environmental reviews and protection regulation in place. Somehow, we’re not reassured however, given Enbridge’s record on spill control.

Premier Redford can divert attention all she wants from the environmental risk but there’s no doubt that B.C. will be bearing the brunt of any damage. British Columbians have significant reservations about this project because we all recognize the horrendous damage it could cause. And the appetite is pretty low for taking that risk.