Enbridge oil pipeline and tanker proposal would threaten 'Super, Natural' BC tourism industry, panel told

National Energy Board panel told a single oil spill could devastate B.C.'s $14 billion a year tourism industry

Barnard Harbour in the Great Bear Rainforest is just off the proposed Enbridge oil tanker route.

If the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline were built, a single accident could irrevocably change BC's 'Super, Natural' brand and billion-dollar tourism industry, argues Bill Eisenhauer, the former communications director for Tourism British Columbia and a board member for the Victoria Hospice Foundation. 

“From my perspective, this province and a lot of companies operating in tourism have spent a lot of time and money and energy building this brand of ‘Super, Natural British Columbia,’ ” Eisenhauer said over the phone. “It’s built around adventure tourism, eco-tourism and the outdoors — around the natural splendour of the place.”

Eisenhauer kicked off the Enbridge public hearings in Victoria as the first presenter to the joint review panel on Friday. A 45-year-old dad and communications professional, Eisenhauer quickly extinguished any pre-conceived notions about opponents of Enbridge Northern Gateway being radical environmentalists. He told the panel in no uncertain terms that Enbridge’s proposal to build a pipeline across British Columbia and bring 225 oil tankers into Kitimat each year is not in the national interest.

“It’s our country, it’s our coast and there are many other less risky and less toxic ways to generate economic growth. I needed to stand up for that,” he said to the three-member National Energy Board panel.

Damage to tourism industry
When you look at case studies of what happened on the Gulf Coast after the BP oil spill or what happened in Alaska after the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill, you can see what happens to tourism destinations in the wake of an oil spill, Eisenhauer said.

“It’s perception. People immediately cancel their trips. They’re not sure exactly where Kitimat is. They just know it’s the West Coast of British Columbia.”

A study by Oxford Economics for the U.S. Travel Association concluded the impact of the Gulf spill could cost U.S. coastal economies $22.7 billion over a period of three years, Eisenhauer told the panel.

“One spill — not the 804 that Enbridge had since 1999 — one oil spill will be a big black eye on tourism in B.C. and Canada,” Eisenhauer said.

“And it’s not only going to kill tourism on the North Coast for years to come. No, it’s going to have a significant, lasting negative affect on tourism in Vancouver and Victoria, Tofino and the entire West Coast.”

Continuing in his presentation, Eisenhauer posed the question:

“How many people are going to book their next family beach vacation in ‘Super, Natural British Columbia’ after they see clean-up crews on the TV news, day after day, wiping oil off the beaches and collecting up dead seals, otters and seabirds?”

As the first speaker, Eisenhauer’s presentation was widely featured in the media. He believes this issue cuts deep through the whole spectrum of society in British Columbia.

“This is the type of issue that brings out the best in people who care about our province and the future for our kids and if you’re going to stand up and say something, now’s the time to do it.”

Still, he has no illusions that the joint review panel will make the final decision on the proposal given the federal government’s well-publicized support of the project. With a provincial election just five months away, he thinks the provincial government has a key role to play.

“People expect their elected leaders to have a position on this. It’s too big of an issue,” he said.

“The party that has the best position on this issue will be getting my vote.”

More in News

Arctic Ocean edging towards ice-free for first time in millennia

20 per cent chance 2015 will see ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer
Photo of grizzly bear by Sophie Wright

Grizzly bear population at risk as B.C. Liberal government aligns with trophy hunters

Dressed in a black cowboy hat, B.C. Premier Christy Clark beams at the camera as she accepts the President's Award from the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. The year is 2012, and the outfitters...
SFU scientists among Stanford’s Leopold Leadership fellows

SFU scientists among Stanford’s Leopold Leadership fellows

Training will focus on effectively communicating scientific research on hot environmental topics
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.

fact check

Do you folks ever fact check anything? BC tourism is a 7 billion dollar industry, see here http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/StatisticsBySubject/Economy/EconomicAccounts/SatelliteAccounts.aspx

its about safety ,stupid

In October 1944 ,an LNG plant explosion ‘happened ’in Cleveland Ohio, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_East_Ohio_Gas_explosion. This disaster  had a lengthy impact on the LNG sector of the natural gas industry. Today, we boast that LNG can greatly help our economy--safely! The time has come for the bitumen transport sector  to respond to public/political pressure about some or our current OIL TRANSPORT  issues ...that have yet have yet to be ‘resolved’,satisfactorily. Do we need a  bitumen tanker spill  DISASTER or another Kalamazoo to  help us better‘design’ our bitumen infrastructure? I read that  LNG ships are manned by highly skilled ,specially trained crews .Yet we intend to send HUGE bitumen  loaded tankers  into our  coastal watereways.Pick any location on our coastline and SHOW US how the shipping crews   WILL cope with a MAJOR  bitumen LEAK, from a tanker hung up on a reef in a howling gale;while we wait for many hours...or days to receive containment equipment.UNTIL WE LEARN MUCH MORE , bitumen laden tankers should be permitted only in the COMMON SENSE locations... NOT BURRARD INLET...OR DOUGLAS CHANNEL..! Our LNG cousins have been developing transport techniques for decades. We need to be convinced that our bitumen transporter proponents give a damn...let’s see a ‘CULTURE of SAFETY’  in the Board rooms... Canada has the world’s longest coastline  and it’s time that those proposing a potential threat to that coastline  present us only with ‘SCIENTIFICALLY  PROVEN’ leak recovery capabilities... We may have golden opportunity here, to provide the shipping world  with the ‘oil transport’  ocean science  research leadership ... with the help  our B.C. and  Alberta universities and the other beneficiaries. As Mr. Harper told us not long ago not long ago....’science ,NOT POLITICS, should help us to decide...  
Thanks for your marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will always bookmark your blog and will often come back at some point. I want to encourage you to continue your great writing, have a nice evening! Feel free to visit my web page: The company