The Province of British Columbia has called for input from residents on the next steps to defend B.C.’s land, coast, and waters from oil spills.
“We understand the personal connection British Columbians have with our environment and how passionate we all are in making sure it is not put at undue risk from potential spills,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “We need to make sure British Columbians have their voices heard on the next steps in protecting our environment.”
In moving forward with its second phase of regulations to improve overall spill readiness, the province is looking for feedback in four policy areas:
- Response times, which ensure timely responses following a spill;
- Geographic response plans, which ensure resources are available to support an immediate response, which consider the unique characteristics of a given sensitive area;
- Compensation for loss of public use from spills, including economic, cultural and recreational impacts; and
- Maximizing application of regulations to marine spills.
“Our government is working to protect tens of thousands of jobs throughout B.C. in fishing, tourism, and film,” said Heyman. “We will put effective spills prevention, response and recovery in place, while making sure that those responsible for spills are also made responsible for fixing the environmental damage they’ve caused.”
The public is invited to provide input on the four policy areas online by completing a questionnaire during the consultation process, which will run from February 28th to April 30th, 2018. Information and the feedback form can be found here at: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/spillsregulation
To make sure views from around the province are heard, engagement with Indigenous peoples, industry, local governments, and environmental groups will take place over the coming several months.
Once the engagement period closes, ministry staff will analyze all feedback and summarize it in a report to be posted online. The feedback will be considered as part of final recommendations for the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, expected later in 2018 or early 2019.
As part of ongoing efforts to understand if and how heavy oils can be safely transported and cleaned up, if spilled, an independent scientific advisory panel will be established at a later date.
The first phase of the regulations, approved in October 2017, established a standard of spill preparedness, response and recovery necessary to protect B.C.’s environment. With some exceptions for B.C. oil and gas regulated entities, the Phase 1 regulations apply to pipelines transporting any quantity of liquid petroleum products, and rail or trucking operations transporting more than 10,000 litres of liquid petroleum products.
Proposed regulations for Phase 2 were met with blowback from neighbouring Alberta.