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VICTORIA — As Premier Christy Clark hosts Canada's premiers in Vancouver, New Democrats are challenging her to clarify the Liberals' support for the Enbridge pipeline after B.C. signed on to a national energy plan that lays the groundwork for the pipeline to push ahead.

At the conclusion of a meeting of national energy and mines ministers in Kananaskis, Alberta, this week, Alberta Energy Minister Ron Liepert said building the 1,100 km pipeline across British Columbia's north is a major priority. After releasing the “Collaborative Approach to Energy” action plan, Liepert indicated the Enbridge pipeline is a “key export link to Asia” that would benefit from a national policy.

“Premier Christy Clark doesn't want to directly address the controversial pipeline because she knows most British Columbians don't want it,” said New Democrat deputy energy and mines critic Doug Donaldson. “B.C.'s energy minister Rich Coleman didn't even go to the meeting, but signed off on the plan anyway. I question whether the Liberals have the priorities of British Columbians in mind when dealing with such important issues.”

“Alberta's energy minister put out a call to his provincial and federal counterparts to speed up approval of the pipeline. That's fine for him, but Premier Clark and Minister Coleman have a responsibility to British Columbians. Will Christy Clark stand up on behalf of the people of this province and oppose this pipeline?” questioned Donaldson.

The proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline would cross more than 1000 streams and rivers, including the headwaters of the Fraser and the Skeena rivers. If the project goes ahead, it would mean hundreds of supertankers larger than the Exxon Valdez carrying hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude through narrow fjords on our delicate central coast.

New Democrat deputy environment critic Michael Sather noted the Liberals have gutted the environmental assessment process, creating uncertainty on the land base and a lack of trust in government's ability to protect the environment.

“One only has to look as far as the Taseko Prosperity Mine to see the uncertainty created by the Liberals. Their lax environmental process approved a project that the federal government later said no to. Another study was released Wednesday detailing the failures of the B.C. process compared to the federal process,” said Sather.

“The way to move forward with big projects like this is for Christy Clark to stop playing politics with our environment and commit to a stringent process people can trust,” said Donaldson.

The B.C. New Democrats have proposed an environmental plan that would reinvest carbon tax revenue in transit and climate change initiatives, create green jobs, and offer legislated protection for species at risk.