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Senate committee votes down oil tanker moratorium

Choice to defeat Bill C-48 in the Senate is in the best interests of Canadians over politics: CAPP

The Senate Standing Committee on Transportation has voted to defeat Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act.

The proposed bill would prevent large oil tankers (those carrying more than 12,500 metric tons) from anchoring, loading or unloading, and transporting oil and other petroleum products such as partially upgraded bitumen and synthetic oil along B.C.’s North Coast. The moratorium zone would extend from the Canada-Alaska border to the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and other groups have opposed passage of the bill, noting that it is not needed and would unnecessarily cause self-inflicted social and economic damage.

Bill C-48 would block Canadian oil exports from the northern coast of B.C. but would do nothing to prevent the passage of international ships, such as tankers transporting oil from Alaska to California.

“The Government of Canada asked the Senate to review the proposed tanker moratorium and make recommendations in the best interests of this country. The Senate Committee responsible for the Bill has completed its work and delivered the message to government – kill Bill C-48,” said CAPP president and CEO Tim McMillan.

McMillan adds, “There is no rationale for the government to proceed with Bill C-48. It would permanently take away Canada’s opportunity to move our energy products to growing international markets in Asia. Tankers have safely been travelling in waters off the West Coast for decades.”

McMillan praised the Senate Committee for its study of this Bill and taking the time to travel and consult directly with Canadians. The Senate Committee travelled to Prince Rupert, Terrace, Edmonton and Regina to hear from Canadians on Bill C-48.

CAPP notes that Bill C-48 would do virtually nothing to address legitimate marine safety concerns of local communities regarding thousands of cruise ships, fueling and other types of vessels that traverse Northern British Columbia waters on an annual basis. It contains no measure to improve emergency marine response capacity.

As well, Bill C-48 cannot, under international law, ban any vessel from passage in Canadian waters. This almost exclusively targets Canada’s energy sector and would block the possibility of export of Canadian petroleum products to international markets. Lack of market access currently costs Canadian producers between $10.8 billion and $15.6 billion annually.

McMillan also notes, “Many Indigenous communities are seeking economic self-determination through responsible resource development, including the oil and natural gas sector. This vote leaves the door open to economic reconciliation, which is in line with the federal government’s overall goals of reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.”

Under the leadership of Committee chair, Saskatchewan Sen. David Tkachuk, the Committee was charged by the Senate of Canada to fully explore the implications of the Bill.

In the best interest of Canadians, senators have recommended the federal government drop the Bill entirely. A vote by the full Senate will be held in upcoming days.