Already there have been three near misses. Four months after Quebec's deaths, another derailment and explosion occurred outside an Alabama town without deaths. This was followed by a collision of two trains that resulted in an evacuation of more than 2,000 persons and a 400,000-gallon oil spill. A third derailment and explosion happened in Virginia forcing another evacuation. Safety is bad enough, but rail is also terrible for the environment.
Frankly I think it's at least partially our fault as an environmental movement that this framing has stuck. We haven't focused enough on specific solutions over the years. We have opposed bad ideas like pipelines with vague notions of carbon taxes or non-specific alternative energy projects. We have rarely proposed or even broadly supported specific alternative projects.
Railways are transforming North America's energy sector and are, coincidentally, helping to save Canada's bacon. But the train business has been allowed to remain a 19th-century technology run with 19th-century mentality by workers without credentials. Aviation, by contrast, is heavily supervised and operated by licensed personnel with professional expertise and constant surveillance. For the moment, the critically important oil industry has been saved, but if governments aren't as tough as nails in their demands and dealings with the railways, then all bets are off.
The truth is that Northern Gateway is important to both British Columbia's and Canada's future. It will open up new markets for our most valuable resource, creating thousands of jobs and new opportunities for British Columbians and Canadians. And, by incorporating leading measures for safety and environmental protection, we are designing a project that delivers these benefits while also protecting our environment.
While we're pleased that federal and provincial regulators finally took action and laid charges against Plains Midstream, the size and nature of the settlements is somewhat disconcerting. It raises a number of questions and once again sheds light on the major weaknesses in Canada's environmental law and enforcement framework.
The thought of this enormous increase in tanker traffic alarms me, and I know I'm not alone. With more oil tankers comes more risk of an oil spill -- one that could destroy our pristine coastline and devastate our local communities. The whole idea undermines Vancouver's award-winning efforts to become the world's greenest city by 2020.
By continuing to promote the extraction and export of coal, tar sands, and fracked gas instead of sustainable sectors in B.C., our government is making a political choice to prioritize short-term profits over renewable industries. Let's work together to develop a smart and creative strategy to transition away from fossil fuels and toward a low carbon economy
Enbridge's ad spend on the Kitimat vote so far is more than three times what the company would be allowed to spend in an electoral district during a provincial election. During a provincial election or initiative vote, Elections BC restricts how much companies and other third-party advertisers can spend -- but no such rules apply to the April 12 plebiscite.
More and more often, we are reading in the news about the federal government and various intelligence and law enforcement agencies allegedly "spying" on aboriginals and pipeline opponents. I am both of those things. I have no idea whether strangers are picking up shards of information from my emails and text messages. I have no idea what kind of beautiful stained-glass mosaics their imaginations might create.
Debating the best way to do something we shouldn't be doing in the first place is a sure way to end up in the wrong place. The recent spate of rail accidents and pipeline leaks and spills doesn't provide arguments for one or the other; instead, it indicates that rapidly increasing oil and gas development and shipping ever greater amounts, by any method
With your help, we'll produce and distribute a provocative film that will go beyond the issues, to the very DNA of change, and encourage constructive discussion across all points of view. It's the only way we're going to find the innovative solutions we so badly need. This is an amazing moment. KeystoneXL pipeline, Enbridge's proposed pipeline, and Kinder Morgan's pipeline expansion, hang in the balance.
The basic argument goes like this: A barrel of oil sands crude currently trades at a lower price than other global oil benchmarks. That price gap means Canadians are losing money on every barrel sold. Access to world markets will fetch higher prices, elevating our collective prosperity. It's a persuasive story, tickling the part of the brain associated with loss aversion. No one wants to bleed money day after day. At the same time it paints a picture of one nation, our fortunes rising and falling in unity. It's good politics. But the reality is more complex.
In the world of Canadian politics, 2013 was one of those years where interesting things seemed perennially on the brink of happening, but rarely did. 2014, in short, will be a year that spends a lot of time providing closure to the unanswered questions of 2013. My guess is there'll be a lot of "no's." Here are some predictions.
Premier Christy Clark set out five conditions for pipeline development in British Columbia. The Premier has been firm on these conditions and has repeated many times that pipeline projects will not be allowed in British Columbia if her conditions are not met. So, why is Kinder Morgan dilbit currently being transported through the Salish Sea? And why hasn't the provincial government stepped in to stop it?
In my first week in 2007 as the newly-minted President and CEO of the former National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, I sat for breakfast in Toronto with a leading environmental advocate. I asked why he and his ilk were so stridently opposed to the then-new Conservative government's environmental policies. He allowed that despite good work being done on chemicals and toxics and waste issues, the government was simply not doing enough about climate change. Action here was required to get credit there. This was my first introduction to the powerful political elixir of social licence.
Could rail realistically provide an alternative to the Keystone XL, aiding in the expansion of Canada's highly-polluting tar sands? The Keystone XL will undoubtedly support tar sands production, promote continued tar sands investment, and contribute to Canada's already-significant greenhouse gas output.
The Pipeline Bogeyman is the New Baby Seal Hunt -- a cause celebre for environmentalists and their fellow travelers as varied as meddling movie stars or Middle Eastern oil sheikhdoms that finance anti-development, anti-fracking, anti-oil sands efforts.My favourite example of the hidden and cynical geopolitical forces aimed at stifling Canada's economic development was the cinematic flop against natural gas fracking called "Promised Land" starring Matt Damon and financed by Abu Dhabi, the world's third biggest oil exporter.