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New Democrat bill would prevent conversion of pipelines to transport bitumen

November 26, 2014 (VICTORIA) – A private member’s bill introduced by New Democrat MLA Doug Donaldson would prevent the conversion of natural gas pipelines to transport heavy oil or diluted bitumen.

The British Columbia Oil and Gas Activities Amendment Act would forbid the Oil and Gas Commission from allowing such conversions to take place.

“British Columbians have spoken loud and clear about the threat of having diluted bitumen cross our province,” said Donaldson, the MLA for Stikine. “In the hearings into the proposed Enbridge pipeline, British Columbians overwhelmingly said they were opposed to risking our pristine wilderness with a dilbit pipeline.

“In the future, companies may try to get around the environmental approval process by seeking approval to build a natural gas pipeline, then converting it into a pipeline for transporting heavy oil. Under the current rules that conversion could take place with little prior approval and no ability for people potentially impacted to have a say.”

Donaldson said Energy Minister Rich Coleman told the Wet’suwet’en in April that he would put legislation in place to prevent his kind of back-door approval of a dilbit pipeline across B.C.

“Here we are at the end of the legislative session and no bill has been introduced by the government,” said New Democrat spokesperson for energy and mines Norm Macdonald. “This is just another example of a government that says what people want to hear, but then does whatever it wants.

“This private member’s bill is in line with our commitment to a sustainable natural gas industry, one which respects the rights of First Nations and keeps environmental values at the forefront.”

“Conversion of pipelines to transport heavy oil and dilbit is technologically feasible and has been proposed in other parts of Canada,” said Donaldson. “British Columbia needs to act to prevent these kinds of conversions here at home.”