US Sen. Maria E. Cantwell (D-Wash.) expressed concern over a possible crude-oil spill in waters between her state and British Columbia after Canada’s federal government approved Kinder Morgan Canada’s proposed pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby, BC, near Vancouver (OGJ Online, Nov. 30, 2016).
“Given the importance of the Pacific Coast to the United States, I urge you to engage with Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau and take action to protect the Puget Sound,” she said in a Dec. 7 letter to US President Barack Obama. “It is critical that sufficient policies, response resources, and regulations are in place before moving forward with construction of the Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project.”
Cantwell, who is the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s ranking minority member, said the Canadian government based its decision solely on the basis of the pipeline’s impact on Canada and did not consider its possible risks to the US.
“Project approval was rendered without consideration of the best available science on oil properties and interactions with the marine environment, and ignored significant known deficiencies in tar sands oil spill prevention and response capabilities,” she said.
Oil spills have the potential to collapse Pacific Northwest fisheries, devastate its tourism, and pose a direct threat to key species such as the endangered Southern resident orcas, the senator noted. A spill in the Strait of Juan de Fuca or the transboundary Salish Sea could restrict vessel traffic to a point that ports’ operations could be brought to a grinding halt, with devastating impact on both the state and national economies, she warned.
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