Calgary – Today, after stalling for almost a year, Energy Minister Ken Hughes released the long-awaited Pipeline Safety Review report after an Alberta Liberal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) forced the disclosure, or face giving the opposition the opportunity to review it before applying just the right amount of typical PR spin—a fact not lost on the government as they summarily banned MLAs from the media’s technical briefing.
While the Redford Conservatives herald the report as a win, a quick read between the lines shows a different reality. After more than 40 years in government, the PCs have become complacent and dismissive with respect to pipeline safety. Alberta still continues to see an astonishing number of pipeline leaks and is completely silent on the need for stricter enforcement and stiffer penalties for polluters.
“I have no doubt that they will try and play this off as a win, but there are glaring issues needing to be addressed,” says Alberta Liberal Energy Critic Kent Hehr. “Alberta has still seen more than 60,000 leaks in almost four decades. If that is what they consider to be ‘leading in safety’, then I think it’s time they stop leading.”
Although the report recognizes Alberta’s unique situation with more than 400,000 kilometres of pipeline, many of those pipelines are aging and there are no records regarding systems that were built before 1990.
Hehr also says that in order to truly commit to pipeline safety we need improve our enforcement and penalties surrounding leaks.
“This report doesn’t address the need for bigger fines, and strict rules and regulations around monitoring and enforcement,” says Hehr. “We can’t expect to rebuild our international reputation if there are no consequences for spills and leaks.”
Alberta Liberal Environment Critic Laurie Blakeman says if our environmental monitoring system is as good as the government claims it is; why do we continue to see leaks and spills?
“If we were monitoring our pipelines properly and had started a program years ago we wouldn’t be faced with almost weekly pipeline leaks and a damaged reputation,” says Blakeman. “Redford needs to go beyond what this report recommends and take the next steps in pipeline safety if she’s serious about protecting our environment.”
Alberta Liberals believe in safe, responsible pipeline infrastructure and independent environmental monitoring with enforcement in order to rebuild our reputation as a safe resource extractor and developer.