The federal representative for the riding where media mogul David Black is seeking to build an export oil refinery is surprised a provincial Green Party MLA is supportive of the idea.
Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen said the decision by Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver to call the refinery plan the best compromise solution to balance the environment and industry is strange.
"I'll admit I'm a bit surprised," Cullen said. "No one gives this Black proposal any credibility. The whole notion behind it that you would build this $7 billion pipeline and 20-something billion dollar facility at the end of the pipeline before shipping it off to China, it goes against the whole rationale for the pipeline in the first place - which is to rip and ship raw bitumen to China."
Cullen said the goal of those seeking to open Canadian energy markets to Asia is to send raw bitumen to offshore refineries, not processed gasoline, diesel or other products.
"Why industry would do the opposite makes no sense to me nor anyone in the industry," he said. "For the Green Party to jump behind this thing seems strange."
Weaver's support for the idea of a northern B.C. refinery stems from the idea that Asian consumers are seeking new gasoline and diesel sources and that those products are safer to ship. He also said the processing jobs that come with the refinery can help B.C.'s economy.
"What we're doing now is exporting all these jobs to Asia," Weaver said. "And Asia actually needs gasoline, it doesn't need dilbit."
Weaver's preference would be to slow development and use more of the oilsands products domestically, while at the same time developing technologies that aren't aren't reliant on using fossil fuels to generate energy. In the meantime he said it's important to find the best balance between the environment and industrial development.
Cullen and Weaver are both in agreement when it comes to the fate of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. Neither support the plan to build dual diluted bitumen and condenstate pipelines from northern Alberta to Kitimat due to environmental concerns about the products proposed to be shipped through the pipes and exported on the tankers off the north coast.
For those that are shocked that a party with a green label would support a refinery, Weaver said it comes down to the most practical way to engage in the resource economy.
"They could be surprised or they can say Weaver, you're just being consistent with what you said in the election campaign, that you're looking for common sense solutions to real world problems and not playing politics and giving honest answers," he said.