We get Press Releases from the Canadian Government relating to the environment. These Releases use certain stock words or phrases comparing Canada’s policies and laws against the world community.
A recent Press Release dated May 14 from Greg Rickford, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, has the title: Minister Rickford Announces Latest Actions to Enhance Canada’s World-Class Pipeline Safety System. The Press Release is linked to a “backgrounder” with the title “World Class Pipeline Safety”.
The Government understands that the Canadian public is concerned that serious bitumen spills may occur in future with permanent damage to the environment. So the Government has to be seen as working to improve the safe transport of bitumen.
The Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, used the “world-class” language with respect to Canada’s laws governing liability for maritime oil spills. Essentially these laws will increase the liability of shipowners whose vessels are involved in oil spills to $411 million. If this amount is not sufficient to cover clean up costs and satisfy damage claims, there are international funds available to reimburse countries for the excess. Beyond this our Government states it will hold the industry liable for both.
Certainly the rapidly escalating costs of maritime oil spills, as demonstrated by the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout, and the grounding of the Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound, Alaska, are a reason for these increased limits.
In previous blogs we have referred to other flattering language that appear in these Press Releases. The Government hopes that these re-assuring announcements by Cabinet Ministers will moderate the continued opposition to these large pipelines and tanker traffic based on concern for the safety of the environment.
In part this concern is generated by the extraordinary scale of bitumen shipments from BC to the Pacific Rim. There are other alternatives open to Canada: read Hugh Robertson’s analysis: “Northern Gateway: a Plea for the Future”.