The bill, otherwise known as the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, would ban tankers carrying more than 12,500 metric tonnes of crude or persistent oil from stopping or unloading along B.C.’s northern coast.

This would aim to protect the fragile marine environment, between the northern tip of Vancouver Island and the Alaska border, from potential spills.

During voting on Wednesday night, six senators were in favor of the legislation and six against, but Senate committee rules see the tied vote as a rejection.

Bill C-48 will now return to the Senate chamber where legislators will vote on whether to accept or reject the committee’s recommendation.

It could still be passed into law, Reuters reports.



Meanwhile, the premier of Canada’s main crude-producing province Alberta welcomed the vote as it opposes C-48, which eliminates the possibility of shipping crude by pipeline from Alberta to a northern British Columbia port for export to overseas markets.

Alberta is home to Canada’s vast oil sands but its heavy crude trades at a discount to US oil because of congestion on export pipelines.

New pipeline project have been delayed for years by regulatory hold-ups and environmental opposition, according to Reuters.

There are currently no oil export ports on British Columbia’s northern coast but such infrastructure was a major part of Enbridge Inc’s proposed Northern Gateway project, which was rejected by the Liberal government in 2016.