• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Updated: Raise a glass of B.C. red

In Blog
Feb 9th, 2018

Or white. Or bubbly. Rachel Notley has just handed us a great way to support British Columbia.

Buy B.C. wine! And score a win for the environment.

Talk about heavy-handed! It would be one thing if the Alberta premier had used the moral suasion of her office to call on people to boycott BC wine as a way of supporting her province’s efforts to gets its dirty, climate-wrecking oil to market. But this is a clear example of a government stepping out of bounds in using its monopoly to bully an opponent.

The Rest Of Canada can play the boycott game. It will be our pleasure.

Scroll to the end for update

I dispatched my loved one to the liquor store two days ago with a request for a wine from British Columbia. They only had one wine! Ask for BC wine, everybody, so we can get more choice. What I got is a red, a smooth blend of grapes from the Okanagan Valley. I liked it. My usual plonk is a VQA from Pelee Island. I won’t stop supporting our Ontario vineyards, I’ll just stop dipping into the odd Italian or South African.

So what’s the issue? Last week, the B.C. government opened consultation on a second phase of regulations to improve preparedness, response and recovery from potential spills.

In particular, it will set up an independent scientific advisory panel to look at how diluted bitumen can be safely transported and cleaned up, if spilled.

Here, for me, is a key point: the province will be seeking feedback on “restrictions on the increase of diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) transportation until the behaviour of spilled bitumen can be better understood and there is certainty regarding the ability to adequately mitigate spills.”

Anyone who has been paying attention to the disaster in the East China Sea – in which the Iranian oil tanker Sanchi was involved in a collision, caught fire, leaked a massive amount of condensate into the ocean, and then sank. taking the rest of its load to the deep, to leach out for who knows how long – will understand that this is an important question.

Condensate is the highly flammable, highly volatile, highly soluble, highly toxic form of light oil that’s used to dilute bitumen and make it flow more easily through a pipeline. Unlike crude oil, when released into the water, it cannot be easily seen, or contained with traditional booms and skimmers.

Canadians should take note, U.S. marine scientist Richard Steiner told the CBC’s Anna Maria Tremonti in an interview January 23 2018.

“The Sanchi should be a wakeup call for Canada, in particular B.C. and Alberta,” Steiner said. “Condensate is coming into Canada now by pipeline and tanker. About 180,000 barrels a day are coming through the southern pipeline — the Enbridge pipeline from Illinois up to Alberta. If Northern Gateway gets built over to Kitimat, that would be about the same amount of condensate coming in.

“But even now there is condensate and methanol coming into Kitimat by tanker and shipped by rail to Alberta. This is all used to dilute bitumen to make it easier to transport the pipelines. So a Sanchi disaster is a real and growing risk for Canada. And particularly if built the Gateway Pipeline.

“So when you see images of the Sanchi exploded and on fire and sinking and dead crew and the pollution event, just imagine Kitimat and Douglas Channel, Haida Gwaii, and Prince Rupert, Hartley Bay, and you get the picture pretty quickly the risk we’re taking.”

I was very disheartened when I heard the interview with Steiner. The Sanchi catastrophe occurred January 6. British Columbia announced its additional measures to protect against spills on January 30. The Rest Of Canada didn’t wake up to what the province had done until Notley lashed out February 7, promptly supported by sycophantic sidekick Justin Trudeau. I was profoundly thankful to hear that protective measures are being considered for this new marine threat.

Let’s be clear, when the National Energy Board reviewed the Trans Mountain proposal, it determined that the risks of a marine oil spill were “acceptable.” Best of luck, orcas. But it made no finding with regard to shipping. For more details, see this article from DeSmog Canada.

B.C. has done the right thing. Let’s show our support. Raise a glass.

Update: On February 22 2018, B.C. announced (bc news release) it would seek a court ruling on what has become known as “Point 5,” a proposed restriction on transportation of increased volumes of diluted bitumen until the behaviour of spilled bitumen can be better understood and there is certainty regarding the ability to adequately mitigate spills.” Alberta took that as “blinking” and lifted the wine ban. “However,” the National Observer noted, “B.C. demands are backed up by American and Canadian scientists who have warned that there are significant gaps and uncertainties in the science related to how to clean up a bitumen spill in water. Environment and Climate Change Canada also made this argument in its final submission in January 2016 to the National Energy Board. The NEB, a Calgary-based federal regulator, reviewed the project and recommended its approval with 157 conditions. Despite concerns raised by First Nations and the scientists, Trudeau accepted the NEB’s recommendations and approved the project in November 2016.”

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