Last week, millionare newspaper mogul David Black caused a stir in the media when he went public with his proposal to build an oil refinery in Kitimat that would process oil from the Enbridge pipeline. One of the longstanding criticisms of the Enbridge Pipeline has been that it would provide very few jobs in British Columbia, but would require the province to should the burden of the environmental risks and the the jobs that a spill could cost coastal communities in sustainable tourism, fishing and other industries. Black's plan makes the calculation that British Columbians - of whom 80% oppose the Enbridge Pipeline - would support the Enbridge Pipeline if, rather than pumping raw bitumen for export to China it provided oil for a Canadian owned refinery.
While the logic may be tempting to some in light of the few thousand jobs a refinery would support, the reality is, refining the oil in Kitimat doesn't reduce the environmental risks one iota. The oil would still have to be piped over the Fraser, down the Skeena and loaded onto tankers before being shipped out Douglas Channel. That means it still has the potential to unleash catastrophic environmental damage that would not only ruin some of the most intact and productive salmon bearing ecosystems for decades, it would jeopardize a huge number of jobs in sustainable industries on the BC Coast. That's not to mention the air quality issues posed by a massive refinery in a Coastal Valley.
Sorry David Black, sorry Enbridge, looks like the project is still a bad idea.