By Tom Fletcher
The B.C. government is considering following the lead of Washington state and putting a toll on pipelines to fund better leak prevention and spill response programs.
Environment Minister Terry Lake announced Wednesday that the government is seeking public and industry input into a new plan to ensure a "polluter pay" system for oil and gas pipelines and other forms of hazardous material transport.
"For instance in the state of Washington, a five-cent a barrel tax is applied to the owner of the oil product received into a storage tank," Lake said. "Four cents of that is put into an oil spill prevention account, and another one cent into oil spill response account."
He added that this applies to the Trans Mountain pipeline that moves oil from Alberta to tanker port at Burnaby and carries on south to supply Washington state refineries. The state toll applies to all oil crossing the U.S. border.
Brenda Kenny, president of the Canadian Energy Pipelines Association, said the industry supports the concept of polluter pay and is looking forward to discussing the toll proposal and other suggestions.
She said B.C. already is home to 6,000 km of natural gas pipelines and another 2,500 km carrying oil and other liquids, and more safeguards are needed if that network is to grow.
Lake said the initiative is not tied to the Enbridge Northern Gateway proposal across northern B.C., or Kinder Morgan Canada's plan to twin the Trans Mountain line.
Resource development is increasing, with many kinds of hazardous materials being moved by rail car and truck as well as pipelines, he said.
A discussion paper has been posted on the environment ministry website at www.gov.bc.ca/env/. Lake said submissions from the public and environmental organizations will be accepted until Feb. 15.