There was a bit of mis-communication between NDP MP's in Ottawa over the last few weeks, as Vancouver-Kingsway MP Don Davies introduced a private members bill to re-enforce a moratorium on tanker traffic on the west coast.
Davies neglected to bring the MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley up to speed on his plans, surprising Cullen with its introduction and the terms of reference that it provided.
Of particular concern for Mr. Cullen is the prospect of a complete ban, not taking into account the different types of tanker traffic that may be calling on the north coast, while he is in agreement on a ban for oil tankers, he doesn't have the same concerns over the prospect of LNG tankers, which he sees in a different category.
He outlined his thoughts for the Daily News in a front page, headline story in Friday's paper.
CULLEN SAYS OIL TANKER ACT MUST ADDRESS AREA'S NEEDS
Tanker moratorium should be mindful of situation in Kitimat says the region's MP By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, February 13, 2009
The Daily News
Friday, February 13, 2009
Pages one and two
Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is not completely behind Vancouver-Kingsway MP Don Davies.
Cullen said the original document proposed by Davies was not substantive enough in scope and understanding of the North Coast to properly relate to all tanker traffic on the coast.
Cullen said he is working with Davies now on the private member's bill that re-enforces an oil tanker moratorium but leaves room for other types of tankers on the coast.
"I talked to Mr Davies about it yesterday and we had a good conversation over coffee and I made him aware of the history of offshore moratoriums," said Cullen.
Davies had said in a Vancouver newspaper last week that he would be introducing the "Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (prohibition of oil tankers off the British Columbia Coast)" as a private member's bill during the two weeks as parliament sits in Ottawa.
There is much disagreement on offshore oil tanker rights along the B.C. coast as proponents have said there is no written document that says tankers are banned.
Cullen confirmed that he believed there was no written document but said that it has been federal policy.
He also wasn't sure how much information voters in the Lower Mainland have about oil.
Enbridge is proposing to construct and operate pipelines, 1,170 km in length, between an inland terminal near Edmonton, Alberta, and a marine terminal near Kitimat.
About 500 km of pipeline will be in Alberta and 670 km in British Columbia.
The project will include an export oil sands product pipeline, an import condensate pipeline, terminalling facilities, integrated marine infrastructure at tidewater to accommodate loading and unloading of oil and condensate tankers and marine transportation of oil and condensate.
Cullen said that he has spoken to Kitimat city council about the development of oil pipelines and urged the city to look at greener initiatives.
As for the bill, Cullen said that Davies, like many people living in Vancouver, are not especially tuned in to the question of offshore oil and tankers that would, and are, traveling on the North Coast.
The bill was also a bit of a surprise given that the Northwest MP said he was never informed this was coming up and that a conversation between the two federal NDP MPs should have taken place before.
"The bill was something that he was recommended to pick up and he apologized for not consulting with me," said Cullen.
Now they are on to the stage of making sense of the bill.
Cullen said that while he could back a petroleum tanker ban, he was not against liquid nitrogen gas (LNG) tankers and said there was a difference in his mind.
"As I've proposed all along that the environmental assessment around LNG has to be as rigorous as any but I am more open to the concept," said Cullen.
Cullen said that it was not the first priority in Ottawa for the NDP party and that his own dealings with the oil tanker issue would remain on the "ground-level".
"The options around oil just feel like a non-starter right across the board on just about any measure that you could offer up," said Cullen.
He added that it was unlikely that the current provincial or federal governments would be interested in any bill that would enforce the moratorium.