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.


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at rafeonline.com.

5 thoughts on “Oil Pipelines and Tankers: A Bad Proposition for BC’s Economy and Environment

  1. I agree with you, Rafe. Our governments are sponsored by oil and gas, mining and bankers. They only look to staying in power, not protecting the environment. I can only hope that people wake up before it is too late and realize that without a healthy ecology there can be no healthy economy. We can have both, but it will be a tough road convincing the Harper and Clark governments of this. There is a good deal of apathy in this province, so waking people up is our biggest challenge.

  2. I would like to know how the Enbridge Idiocracy intends to safeguard our precious land and sea from the unpredictable devastation of an earthquake and/or close tsunami? Tsunami’s don’t all come with several hours of warning!

  3. The world suffered under the ‘divine right’ of kings and churches, now we suffer under the divine right of ‘Banks and Oil Companies’.

  4. Good Grief!!! How many more tanker spills, off shore rigs exploding and pipe bursts will it take, to ram through into corrupt greedy politicians heads, we have to stop poisoning our rivers, streams, lakes and lands….Now the clean underground water is being poisoned for absolute miles, from fracking. People can even light the water on fire, that comes out of their faucets. Stupid greedy idiots, the entire lot of them.

    I read, the dirty oil grunge is like a hockey puck. The chemicals put in the oil, to make it flow freely is lethal. Those chemicals also corrode the pipes, they become fragile and burst. In our vast wilderness, it could take days to locate the pipe burst.

    The Douglas Channel is the home of our beautiful Orka and Humpback Whales, and thousands of other marine species. People from all over the world go there to watch the Whales.

    The immense oil tankers from China, have to navigate the most treacherous seas in the world. 125 km winds and huge waves.

    There is still oil gathering on the rocks from, the Valdez spill, over 21 years ago.

    Greedy brain dead politicians, to hell with them and their stupidity.

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