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Christy Clark says BC still open to Northern Gateway

BC Premier Christy Clark with Environment Minister Terry Lake and former Attorney General Geoff Plant who will be questioning Enbridge at the Joint Review Panel hearings in Edmonton, Prince George and Prince Rupert. Photo source: Beth Hong for The Vancouver Observer.

Premier Christy Clark said she's still waiting for Premier Alison Redford to call about giving BC a "fair share" of the environmental risks and revenues from the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline project, as the province cross-examines Enbridge at the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel hearings for the first time this afternoon in Edmonton.

"Today is about making sure that we're protecting the environment no matter what fair share we finally ultimately negotitate for BC in terms of jobs and economic benefit, there is no fair share we can make up for catastrophic damage to the environment," Clark said, adding that Alberta premier Alison Redford should call her to negotiate "fair share." 

Clark made the comments in a surprise appearence with Environment Minister Terry Lake and former BC Attorney General Geoff Plant at the Vancouver International Airport this morning before Lake and Plant boarded their flight for Edmonton.

However, critics disagreed with Clark's suggestion that BC could reach a deal with Alberta insuring the province against a potential oil spill.

Well-known environmentalist and author Tzeporah Berman said that Clark is "grasping at straws."

"No matter what she negotiates today she cannot assure BC that there will not be oil spills and leaks," Berman said. "She needs to stop trying to put a price on this unacceptable risk and just stand up for our coast."

The Wilderness Committee's Ben West called Clark's comments about fair sharing "political theatre".

"It's hard to imagine someone saying so much without committing to anything. She is clearly getting the message that people didn't like her emphasis of financial compensation but she still is far from actually saying that she would stop the pipelines let alone how she would do it," West said.

Questions in Edmonton focused on whether Enbridge can pay for an oil spill

Former BC Attorney General Geoff Plant will be a legal strategist for the province at the Joint Review Panel Hearings. Photo source: Beth Hong for The Vancouver Observer.

Plant said that the province will focus mainly on Enbridge's ability to respond to and pay for "disasterous spill or accidents" at the hearings in Edmonton, while the hearings in Prince George and Prince Rupert will focus on "technical issues" related to the five minimum requirements the province released in July, which include First Nations accommodation, benefit-sharing, improved marine and land spill response.

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