Oil Pipelines and Tankers: A Bad Proposition for BC’s Economy and Environment
There are two stories about pipelines this week – the first was a Vancouver Sun article October 25. Here it is, in part:
Sixteen business and labour leaders have signed an open letter to British Columbians urging their support for natural gas and oil pipeline proposals across the northern half of the province which they say are needed to link Canada’s energy resources and B.C.’s economic future more closely to Asian economies.
The letter marks the first public relations campaign aimed at swaying opinion province wide towards energy projects in the North. Up until now, only regional support groups have been formed, such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway Alliance, which is actively supporting Enbridge’s $5.5-billion Alberta-to-Kitimat pipeline project in communities along the pipeline route.
The letter was written by former federal transportation minister Chuck Strahl. Signatories include former international trade minister David Emerson, the B.C. and Yukon Territory Building and Construction Trades Council, the Business Council of B.C., the Vancouver Board of Trade and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, the country’s largest industrial association.
As for the second story, on October 24 I attended the Jack Webster Awards dinner where Kevin Redvers of CTV did a story called Black Blood – Tainted Land. What a sight with dying caribou showing the results of an oil spill two years ago and how the black ooze is still there with the consequent loss of a staple part of the diet of First Nations.
Clearly the business and labour people don’t care a fiddler’s fart about the environment and any concerns they might have are a carefully disguised secret.
The people of BC have a choice to make – at least they would if we had democracy in this province. It is a clear either/or – either we follow the union and business leaders and have the certainty of oil spills or we don’t.
We will have spills – there are no ifs ands or buts about it. The federal Department of Environment, scarcely made up of wild eyed environmentalists, says this about tanker traffic out of Kitimat – there will be a 1000 barrel spill every four years, a 10,000 spill every 9 years! One can only imagine what the odds are for a spill from pipelines!
These pipelines traverse over 1,000 kilometres of wilderness which, amongst other things, contains three of the most important fisheries we have. The pipelines are impossible to patrol and any spills will be difficult and time-consuming to deal with and, as Kevin Redvers has demonstrated, the damage is permanent.
Moreover, BC makes dick-all out of this – we are simply the right-of-way.
This, then, is the bottom line: We will trade our wilderness for infinitesimal rental money with certain environmental catastrophes. Don’t believe for a moment that pipeline companies will “minimize” the risk. Even if that were true, which it isn’t, the consequences are so terrible that this feeble statement is an insult to our intelligence. Moreover, the jobs will be short term and will be mostly from out of province.
Please believe it – the spills will come, our rivers and wilderness will be damaged and the damage will be huge and permanent.
The Campbell/Clark government must hold a referendum and let British Columbia citizens decide the fate of their favoured and much loved province.