The southern resident killer whale population depends heavily on salmon, and is affected by ship traffic in its feeding and migration areas. (Black Press files)

B.C. NDP challenged on their selective oil tanker opposition

Ferries greater threat to killer whales, opposition MLAs say

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Environment Minister George Heyman defended their opposition to the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion Wednesday, as opposition critics pointed to evidence that Alaska oil tankers, B.C. Ferries and other shipping are a bigger risk to resident killer whales than one extra tanker a day from B.C.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson referred to a recent study in the journal Nature that describes risks affecting southern resident killer whales. That study concluded that “acoustic and physical disturbances” from shipping are a threat, as the Salish Sea sees increasing shipping of all kinds.

“The expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline would result in 29 extra sailings per month, about one per day,” Wilkinson told the legislature. “The environment minister recently defended the addition of 2,700 sailings per year by B.C. Ferries, on top of the existing 117,000 sailings by B.C. Ferries.”

Heyman referred repeatedly to a “seven-fold increase” in tanker traffic that the Trans Mountain expansion would generate, as oil shipments from Trans Mountain’s Burnaby terminal are expected to increase from one a week to one per day. The pipeline twinning was recommended to proceed by the National Energy Board for a second time Feb. 22, with a proposal to reduce impact from all shipping in the region to mitigate the additional tankers.

READ MORE: Crude by rail in Western Canada hits new record volume

READ MORE: B.C. Ferries to add 2,700 more sailings to coastal routes

B.C. Liberal environment critic Peter Milobar said energy shipments represent only one per cent of the noise pollution affecting resident killer whales, and in the Salish Sea the majority of tanker traffic is from Alaska to Washington state refineries.

Heyman responded that U.S. tankers are outside B.C.’s jurisdiction. The NDP government is continuing a court case in an effort to define provincial jurisdiction in oil transportation, which is federally regulated because it begins in Alberta and terminates in B.C. and Washington, where it has supplied refineries and tankers since 1954.

The southern resident killer whale population has been intensively studied by Canadian and U.S. researchers. Its population has fluctuated between 70 and 99 orcas since 1976, and as of 2017 it numbered 76 members. With a range from Alaska to California, the resident group is currently listed as endangered by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureTrans Mountain pipeline

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Snow flurries, cold temperatures in Cariboo-Chilcotin forecast

DriveBC reports road maintenance on Highway 97, Highway 20

COVID-19: New system in Wells helps neighbours check up on each other

A green square in your window means your household is well; a red square means you need assistance

WASHOUT: Slide at Soda Creek MacAlister Road makes road impassable

Next update on DriveBC is expected on Monday, March 30 at noon.

Spreading joy through music: Local musicians brighten everyone’s day on social media

LeRae Haynes and Evan Jensen post two songs online every day

LETTERS: COVID-19 will impact us all, one way or another

Let me say that our hospital staff are heroes

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Cruise ships, one with COVID-19 on board, carry Canadians covertly through Panama Canal

Zaandam, Rotterdam pass through canal under cover of darkness in face of local protests

’The energy sector is destroyed beyond repair’: expert on COVID-19’s impact on economy

‘That’s never been heard of before; no one sells oil for $4 a barrel.’ – Dan McTeague

LifeLabs reducing public hours as it assists with COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus tests not done at B.C. patient centres, referrals only

24,000 Canadian Forces members ready for COVID-19 response: Defence Minister

No direct requests made by premiers yet, national defence minister says

IN DEPTH: How B.C. emptied its hospitals to prepare for COVID-19

Thousands of beds have been freed up, but patients and seniors have had to sacrifice

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Most Read