By PAUL VIEIRA
OTTAWA -- The Canadian government said Tuesday it will
toughen safety rules governing oil tankers as it seeks to
address environmental concerns in British
Columbia about shipping Alberta's heavy crude to Asian
Resources Minister Joe Oliver and Transport Minister Denis
Lebel were in Vancouver, British Columbia to unveil the
proposals, which include establishing a panel tasked with
recommending further changes to create a so-called
"world-class" tanker safety system.
Opposition in British Columbia over Enbridge's proposed
Northern Gateway pipeline has focused largely on the environmental threat to the Pacific
Coast province. Among the worries is that British Columbia
would be at risk of an Exxon Valdez-like oil spill.
A provincial election in British Columbia is scheduled for
May, and the left-leaning provincial New Democratic Party --
which opposes the Gateway project -- appears poised to take
"There will be no pipeline development without rigorous environmental protection measures
and the tanker safety initiatives are an important aspect of
our plan for responsible resource development," Mr. Oliver
As envisaged by Enbridge, the Gateway pipeline is a 730-mile
corridor that would carry crude from the Alberta oil sands to
the Pacific port of Kitimat, British Columbia. Once in Kitimat,
the crude would go onto tankers bound for Asia.
Among the new measures the federal government is looking to
implement immediately are: increasing the number of inspectors
to oversee foreign tankers; expanding surveillance efforts;
increasing the number of ports subjected to federal
regulations, including Kitimat; and allocating money for
research into non-conventional petroleum products, such as
diluted bitumen, to better understand what would happen in the
event of a spill.
Dow Jones Newswires