Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for president of the United States issued his "white paper" on energy policy on Thursday. It calls for an integrated energy market with Canada, the United States and Mexico. Romney also endorses Prime Minister Stephen Harper's environmental fast track "one project, one review" policy.
For all those who in Alberta that keep saying that the people of British Columbia have to be "educated" about pipelines, and just so Stephen Harper is up to date on his science: Building a pipeline over smashed, broken, uplifted, twisted Jurassic-era islands, downsized by erosion, lost islands turned into mountains, buried and shaped by kilometres of glacial ice, is a completely different story altogether.
If there is one thing that can be said about all the attention directed to Enbridge's Northern Gateway Project, it is that it's provided ample distraction for other projects and issues to move along without getting the same ass-kicking Enbridge is. Take for example, the Pacific Trails Pipeline project ( also referred to as the KSL line). With minimal media coverage during the approval process, it has by and large flown completely under the radar of most British Columbians. That's a damn shame in my opinion, and I'm going to tell you why.
The Northern Gateway is now becoming the National Nightmare. Canada has a new Two Solitudes in the 21st century. The dividing line is not the Ottawa River but the Rockies. It appears that in Alberta -- not just columnists but bloggers and tweeters as well -- seem to believe that if they just yell loud enough, that the people of B.C. will eventually realize their thought errors and join in supporting Alberta's manifest destiny.
So why do people insist, despite the evidence, that the Northern Gateway go to Prince Rupert? It's no longer a pipeline; it's emotion and ideology. Ideology in that opposition to the Northern Gateway is seen by conservatives as heretical opposition to free enterprise itself. Emotion among those who see promoting the oil patch as an issue of "Alberta pride" and even Canadian patriotism. For the promoters of the pipeline to Prince Rupert, ignoring the science of geology and the study of geography across all of northwestern B.C. is no different than repeatedly knocking your head against the Paleozoic metamorphic greenstone of the mountain cliffs along the Skeena. It only gives you a headache.
Yesterday in British Columbia, Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to sound a note of reason on the subject of the increasingly unpopular proposal to build 1,100 kilometres of Northern Gateway pipeline. And he talked about basing these decisions on science. My favourite bit, if I am allowed favourite bits of whoppers, was the gratuitous, "As I've said repeatedly." Where and when did he ever say anything like this before? Let's look at what he actually has said repeatedly...
B.C.'s premier Christy Clark was right to walk away from a national energy strategy promoted by Alberta's Alison Redford at a provincial premiers' meeting in Halifax in late July. She just did it for the wrong reasons. Clark should have renounced the proposal because it's focused more on tar sands, pipelines, and markets than on getting Canada's greenhouse gas emissions under control.
Has there ever been a successful clean up from a massive tanker spill? Should an accident occur involving a large ship, serious inadequacies in B.C.'s response capabilities would hinder rescue and containment operations. And oil spill technology only works in ideal conditions with very little wind and waves; the behavior of diluted bitumen in the ocean is a complete unknown.
Tar sands oil may soon be pumping through an Ontario pipeline near you. If you didn't know, it is likely because Enbridge doesn't want you to know that they are bringing the Kalamazoo disaster to your home province. It is called Line 9, and is part of the same Enbridge pipeline network as the pipe that spilled well over a million barrels of oil in 2010 into the Kalamazoo River.
On Monday, British Columbia premier Christy Clark was essentially slapped in the face -- politely but publicly -- by Alberta Premier Alison Redford -- who rejected B.C.'s demand for "a fair share" of royalties from Alberta's oil pipelines. It should make for an interesting backdrop to Canada's premiers getting together in Nova Scotia this week, where energy will be front and centre on the agenda.
The federal government announced it will close the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area in Southern Ontario in 2013. It's an odd decision, especially considering that it costs just $2-million a year to operate -- one-tenth the cost of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's security detail and about the same amount the government spent during the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto to build a tourism pavilion with a fake lake.
Enbridge has a credibility problem. They're an oil pipeline company. They're out for themselves and people know that. That's probably why they've invested in a $5 million ad campaign assuring the audience that the company's oil pipeline and supertanker project is "more than a pipeline, it's a path to our future." This is the brainchild of PR company Hill and Knowlton, "the public relations company famous for the unsavoury nature of its clients." But they're not fooling anyone these days.
Kim Slater knows that Canada can reinvent itself, and shift from being a fossil fuel dealer to a clean energy leader. She knows her elected leaders can make it happen. But she isn't waiting for them to take the lead. In fact, she's starting without them, running across British Columbia to talk with Canadians about more sustainable forms of energy.
As the battle over Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline plays out, two key questions about the moral make-up of Canada will be answered. First, will we as a nation respond to climate change with a renewed commitment to conventional energy and conventional economic growth? Second, will large companies be allowed to bulldoze through unceded Aboriginal territory without local consent?
Fifty artists will take up paintbrushes and carving tools to portray Canada's fragile "raincoast," the results of which will be published in an art book. Their goal is to bring attention to the dramatic beauty and ecological diversity of B.C.'s central and north coast that will be at risk if tankers are permitted to ship tar sand oil through the region's narrow and dangerous channels.
Public hearings are rarely closed to the public. But that's exactly what happened at the National Energy Board (NEB) hearings in London, Ontario to review Enbridge's Line 9 proposal -- the first part of Enbridge's plan to build a route to move tar sands oil through Ontario and Quebec. In short, they kicked us out.