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Critics urge B.C. to confirm offshore oil ban

CBC News, December 10, 2010

Critics are applauding news that offshore drilling is not a priority for the B.C. government —but they are also urging the province to confirm a federal moratorium will stay in place.

On Wednesday, Energy Minister Steve Thomson told CBC News offshore exploration for oil and gas on the West Coast is no longer a priority for the province. Thomson said his focus as the province's new energy minister is on exporting natural gas from northeastern B.C.

The announcement is welcome news to Jennifer Lash with the Living Oceans Society, who has been fighting for years to keep drilling rigs away from B.C. shores.

However, Lash is calling on the province to follow up by confirming the federal moratorium on drilling will remain in place.

"Doing nothing is not necessarily good enough for us. What we want to see, what we want to have, is faith the coast is going to be protected in perpetuity," she said.

"What we need to see is something very strong from our provincial government saying that they're not going to try to lift the moratorium a year from now, two years from now, and make us go through this whole thing again."

For several years, the Liberal government has sought to lift an informal federal moratorium on drilling off the B.C. coast, where former energy minister Richard Neufeld has said there was $100-billion worth of oil and gas.

Earlier this week, MPs in Ottawa passed a New Democrat private member's motion calling for a ban on tankers on the West Coast. However, there is no legislation in place for either a ban on tankers or oil exploration off B.C.'s coast.

B.C. NDP energy critic John Horgan said the province should take a firm stand on the issue.

"I think if the Liberals want to put to rest the concern about offshore oil and gas drilling, they should put that in legislation."

Horgan said he wants to see the issue put to rest for good.

Source

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