Rafe: With fracking, tankers “world-class safety” is a weasel word
Many times I have referred to Premier Clark’s demand that Enbridge and others have “world-class” cleanup processes in place. To repeat myself, these are “weasel words” and mean absolutely nothing. “World-class” firefighting procedures doesn’t mean the building didn’t burn down.
I was delighted to read Stephen Hume’s column in the Vancouver Sun of July 17, where he talks about “weasel words”, especially the term “world-class”, and other matters. This particular article is about fracking and in his surgical way, Hume carves up the government for it’s utter lack of process and covering each and every one of their tracks by use of the words “world class”.
Government naively accepts industry’s word on safety
We have seen a similar absence of investigation by the Clark government into the risks of LNG, be it in pipelines, plants, or tankers. This government is now known for two things: an utter lack of preparation and lying through their teeth.
British Columbia under Christy Clark is brought to the position where we are to have pipelines and oil tankers; LNG plants, pipelines, and tankers; and fracking for natural gas, without any idea as to the safety of these projects. Premier Clark and her cabinet lickspittles simply take the company’s word that what they plan is environmentally benign.
Companies lie by their very nature. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars on public relations every year. One only has to look at the ads from Enbridge over the last year or so to see the kind of money they spend and the sort of message that they put out.
Many British Columbians accept the need for oil pipelines, LNG, and fracking and the tanker traffic associated with them and I must ask my fellow citizens upon what do you base your support? Do you have some information about the safety of these projects that we don’t? If so, would you be so kind as to vouchsafe it to the rest of us so that we can, perhaps, change our minds?
British Columbians face onslaught of projects
A couple of years ago, in a speech, I observed that the attacks on the environment of British Columbia were so many, so varied, and so widespread that it would be difficult for us to deal with them just because of their sheer volume. Unfortunately this has manifestly been proved true.
Citizens of a democracy, faced with this sort of an onslaught, have a right to expect that their government will stand at the gate and not let anybody by who is going to do harm. We are entitled to believe that our government will investigate each and every potential environmental assault and advise us of what dangers we face.
We expect governments to give a full accounting on the danger of oil spills from pipelines and tanker accidents; we expect a full investigation by the government of safety factors as well as the environmental concerns around LNG plants, pipelines and tankers; we expect our government to make a thorough investigation of fracking before the first undertaking starts. On that latter point, fracking is going ahead full blast and the government hasn’t lifted a finger to deal with its safety or environmental concerns – like massive climate impacts and water contamination, as recent, reputable studies reveal.
Public can’t rely on government
We, who pride ourselves on being environmentalists, must do extensive investigations on our own to learn the facts. There is absolutely no point in going to government departments to find out what they know because they know nothing. It is idle to go to the companies involved because they are incapable of telling the truth.
This is the extent of democracy under the Christy Clark government.
NDP ‘opposition’ not much better
One would like to think that the NDP, her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, would be different.
Unfortunately, the leader of the NDP seems to favour LNG. He is thinking about fracking. He is also, apparently, confused about the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion and on this critical issue, the Party Policy falls all over its own feet.
British Columbians left on their own
It is the totality of tanker traffic carrying diluted bitumen (dilbit) and LNG which has not been assessed by the government and doesn’t seem to be bothering the opposition – yet this is a massive issue.
We are left in British Columbia on our own. Those people to whom we pay a great deal of money to manage our affairs are in thrall to big industry, which finances the Liberal Party and supports it politically. It, like the government, is hugely economical with the truth. We citizens must then inform ourselves.
As I see it, we have only one political option. I am, God knows, no socialist. I ran against the NDP twice and beat them twice. I stood against them in the legislature. My last two votes in provincial elections have been for the Greens.
Having said that, the Greens are not going to win the next election and the NDP do have a chance.
What the NDP must do to regain public’s support
If the NDP are to win they have to increase their support substantially.
If the NDP do increase their support by candidly, fully and fairly looking at environmental matters and reporting to us faithfully as to their findings and encourage the fullest debates, I not only think they have a chance to win, but would be an acceptable government to have.
One thing that I must say in conclusion – I cannot believe that my fellow citizens would be insane enough to support Christy Clark and her bunch once again.
If that happens, we deserve what we get, even though our kids sure as hell don’t.