Bob Zimmer: Washington governor takes aim at Trans Mountain in bid to become president

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I usually try to stay out of the politics of other countries, especially when it comes to elections and those who are running for leadership roles. However, with the recent announcement of Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s 2020 Presidential election bid, I’m having a hard time staying quiet.

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It is no secret that Governor Inslee has been, and continues to be, a vocal opponent of the Trans Mountain Expansion project. Most recently at a joint news conference in Seattle with B.C. Premier John Horgan, Governor Inslee was asked how he would try to influence the project. His response: “Every way that we can under Canadian law.”

Following the announcement that Governor Inslee will be running for President, I wrote him a letter voicing my concerns with his opposition to this vital project. In the letter, I highlighted how important this project is to our country’s economy, how many jobs it will create, and the projected $46.7 billion in government revenues the expansion will provide from construction and first 20 years of operation.

Governor Inslee claims that his concerns with the Trans Mountain Expansion are due to the increase in oil tanker traffic. However, as I noted in my letter, 46% of Washington State’s crude oil products came from inbound oil tankers in 2017. Not only that but the state has the fifth highest oil refining capacity in the United States and production has increased under his leadership.

I went on to explain that the Trans Mountain Expansion will increase the number of tankers needed from five per month to approximately 34, meaning an additional one ship each day, and how our previous Conservative government took measures to strengthen an already robust tanker safety system. It is also important to note that tolls paid on the Trans Mountain Expansion will pay for the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation to reduce spill response times for all ships from 6 hours to 2 hours in the Port of Vancouver, and from 3 days to 6 hours through the Salish Sea and across the west coast of Vancouver Island.

As you know, the National Energy Board recently renewed its support for the Trans Mountain Expansion. I firmly believe that the development of our natural resources is vitally important to the future of our local, and national, economy. Like many of you, I have followed the development of this project closely and I continue to believe that it can be completed in an environmentally responsible way.

That said, I am deeply concerned that someone who is running for President of the United States would have such a vocal and hypocritical position of a Canadian project. Canada’s energy sector is second to none when it comes to developing oil and gas with some of the highest environmental standards in the world. If the Governor is so concerned about the environment as he claims to be, maybe instead of looking over the fence and telling us what to do, he should start at home first.

Bob Zimmer is the Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies.

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