I was privileged to be part of the media relations team that helped tell this story on Tuesday. Bottom line: This is where tar sands expansion, at least with respect to a pipeline route through British Columbia, hits a wall.
Following Tuesday's press conference, Premier Campbell, at a session of the provincial legislature, left himself an opening to cancel the project: "If concerns could be answered, said Campbell, 'it will proceed. If there is not an answer, it will not proceed.'" - nebulous language that should make investors in the pipeline, and tar sands expansion in general, nervous.
That same afternoon, Enbridge, which may have well been aware of Tuesday's pending announcement, made a pivot of sorts, declaring that the U.S. Midwest was now the new growth market for Canadian tar sands (forget about Asian demand). Steve Wuori, Executive VP at Enbridge, used meaningful hand gestures and reassuring language to make his point, "(The Midwest) has probably the safest refineries in terms of the threat of offshore refined product imports," he said. "I think you'll see that that is really the epicenter of where most of the Canadian heavy (oil) growth needs to be."
Personally, I think that keeping the tar sands land-locked (confined to North America) and slowing down and cleaning-up their development, ideally using them to transition to a renewable energy economy (and certainly one subject to some form of carbon pricing) is the most pragmatic and realistic solution to current social and environmental impacts. I also think that Albertans need to give their heads a shake and adopt a royalty system that accounts for the true value (and damage) that these projects are creating.
All in all, a good news day.