I am amused by the retort from the “anti-environmentalists” calling those who oppose expansion of the oil industry hypocrites (e.g. me) because we drive a car and use products from oil. Of course we drive a car because we have little choice and there are certainly a lot of useful products to be made from oil which is far better than burning it. We drive a car and use gasoline because we have been held hostage and brainwashed by the oil industries and auto manufacturers that have refused to change for over 100 years (130 years later we still worship it.)

For some reason the industry keeps perpetuating the false notion that we must continue to expand fossil fuels. Well, time is changing, as it should, and new technologies and energy sources are emerging. But the way forward is being thwarted by the simple-minded stalwarts who want us to believe that we must maintain the fossil fuel industry in perpetuity, at all cost, when the science is clearly showing we must change.

This is not about the workers in the industry trying to make a living to support their families and communities. This is a criticism of our governments and the corporate influence that control our energy policies. The workers in the oil industry are trained, skilled workers and labour within the erroneous paradigm of our societal acceptance that we must continue to expand and promote fossil fuels. The  conversation we all should be engaged in must be about change and how we can move away from fossil fuels over the long-term. The industry (and our governments greased with corporate donations) however, is promoting division and is unable to engage in any meaningful dialogue towards change because they see this as a threat to their corporate profits (many of whom are foreign companies). The workers are trapped in the midst of these controversies and of course will feel threatened as well.

The real hypocrites think it is OK to keep the status quo and continue to promote, expand and burn fossil fuels and continue to use our atmosphere as a sewer with no desire for change, ignoring the consequences and carry on as if nothing is wrong.   The real hypocrites are those who resist and sabotage change but purport to enjoy nature, camping, boating and the natural world while supporting, without question, the very industry that is killing it.  The hypocrites are those that have no imagination and continue to scoff at new ideas and belittle the overwhelming and mounting scientific evidence that shows we must  reverse these trends and work together to eventually end the era of fossil fuels.

The view that anyone who opposes the expansion of fossil fuels is a hypocrite is laughable because change will not come about unless the status quo is challenged (and always should be) and new ideas are explored. Name calling cannot mask the truth and will not stop free thinking and cannot refute the science that clearly shows a different way forward is not only needed, it is imperative.



Open letter to Gary Lamphier, Edmonton Journal in response to his article Nov 24, 2016

glamphier@postmedia.com  Nov 28/16

Re: Kinder Morgan Pipeline risks

It was refreshing to read an objective article minus the unsupported rhetoric from the pro-side as well.

I have been involved with this issue for over 2 years as a researcher and have participated in the NEB process.

Here are few points to consider.


There is much debate regarding the methodology to determine risk of spills and studies indicate that this risk is underestimated. The risk of a spill is described as low risk (it is not zero) but with high consequence. This risk has increased as it has become evident that the industry is not prepared for a spill now with current operations. A spill in Burrard inlet cannot be contained or cleaned-up.

Spill Containment and Response

Despite the statements about enhanced spill response, the fact is an oil spill in the marine environment cannot be contained or cleaned up.  Studies show that at best, even in ideal meteorological conditions, only 15% of a spill could be contained and recovered and only 5% in the conditions on the BC coast. BC has some of the roughest coastline in the world with navigational hazards, large tidal swings, strong currents, changing winds, waves and big waves, storms and storm surges that will make any response slow, ineffective and basically useless. And then there is the disturbing fact that dilbit will sink through the water column when mixed with organic matter and suspended solids. Spill modelling and experience shows that a spill in Burrard Inlet, (from filling operations or a collision with another vessel or the bridges) will spread quickly with wind and tides and will contaminate shorelines and beaches. Reports state that a spill to areas such as the Maplewood mudflats cannot be cleaned up and will have long lasting adverse impacts. The extensive mudflat of the Maplewood Conservation Area (North Vancouver directly across from the Westridge Marine Terminal) is part of the International Pacific Flyway and forms the last remaining marsh/mudflat on Burrard Inlet. The impacts here will be significant and permanent.


The economic importance of this proposal to Alberta is understood. Alberta has lost significant revenue and needs to get the oil to market in order to maintain its economy; however BC (and Canada) does not rely heavily on the oil and gas industry and therefore considers the expansion of the pipeline and tanker traffic an unacceptable risk to our economy, environment and health. Do you agree that it would be better for Alberta to diversify its economy over time rather than depending so heavily on oil production (22% GDP Alta; <3% GDP BC; <4% GDP Canada) and being so vulnerable to a single market? That is not to say we don’t need oil production; we do, but it is time we started to transition away.

National Energy Strategy

This is not about Alberta vs BC. The Federal Government must take the responsibility for not planning a transition from oil long ago. We need a National Energy Strategy that promotes a low Carbon economy that supports alternate energy sources, reduces our GHG emissions and reduces our reliance and production of oil over time, instead of promoting and expanding it and locking us in for the next 50+ years or more and crippling our climate change initiatives and leaving our coast at risk.

 National Interest

Further, Canadians believe that preserving our natural and cultural heritage for future generations is in the national interest; keeping our coastline, fisheries and streams alive and healthy  is in the national interest; maintaining our wilderness, wildlife and tourism is in the national interest; reducing our contribution to climate change and to quit subsidising carbon intense and polluting industries and to save our tax dollars is in the national interest; and that having a political process that is transparent, respects democracy, science and the principles of sustainability is in the national interest.

The effects of a spill inland, along our coast or in Burrard Inlet will be catastrophic to our health, coastline, environment and economy and will outweigh by far, any economic gains. Our coast is at risk and it is simply not worth it.


Ken Bennett

Surrey BC

Federal Liberal Cabinet Members, Nov.2016 – cut and paste for email

Here is the list of Federal Liberal Cabinet members for letter campaigns. Please send an email to each and all for issues of concern, i.e KinderMorgan , TransMountain, Site C

Federal Liberal MPs cabinet – Nov. 2016




































A nightmare commute

It is 7 AM, dark and raining which is usual for a November commute on the 99. I slow down as I approach the brake lights quivering off the wet pavement ahead.  Eventually I come to a stop behind a long line of traffic –  4 km from the Massey Tunnel.  Probably an accident caused by another stupid driver who weaves and darts through traffic only discover too late that the traffic has stopped ; or is it just volume plugging the route? Either way it is going to be a long wait yet again. The year is 1982 and the traffic is horrible. Continue reading

Say no to everything ? Absolutely if it is based upon flawed processes and flawed science

4 minute read

Having been deeply involved with the review process for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion proposal for over 2 years as a researcher for the District of North Vancouver, and on the occasion of the NEB approval of this project (this was anticipated long ago despite the “consultation”), I  feel it is time to write about my experiences with this and other processes and provide my thoughts on the reasons why so many projects are now feeling such intense public pressure. Despite the characterization as the”say no to everything crowd“, the criticisms of these projects are  legitimate and form the basis for a well-informed backlash. Please read on.

Reading my morning paper or watching TV, I find it curious that when industry is challenged on a project, they become defensive and resort to condescending remarks in an attempt to discredit criticism. Statements like, …”it’s time to have a mature conversation about oil exports…“, ( Jock Finlayson, Business Council of BC)  or  describing  anyone who dares to raise a concern as “…environmental radicals…” (former Finance Minister J. Oliver) and my favourite, “the say no to everything crowd” (recent TV ad),  exposes the cavalier attitudes of industry and government towards anyone who challenges them.

Having worked as a Professional Biologist for over 35 years with scientists and professionals from many other disciplines on various issues, (including the Trans Mountain Pipeline), I can assure you that  rigorous scientific scrutiny and informed discussion occurs on these projects and that serious flaws in the science and process have been exposed as a result.  These are legitimate criticisms  based on research and facts.

So, do I say no to everything?  Absolutely!

I say no to everything that has a biased and flawed review process. I say no to everything that is rife with political lobbying and interference that gags and suppresses science, restricts open dialogue and attacks opponents. I say no to everything that does not consult with First Nations, communities and individuals in a meaningful way and discounts environmental concerns as superfluous  and  brushes them aside with condescending, patronizing remarks. I say no to everything that is based upon incomplete or missing research and takes our natural environment for granted and only considers it as something to be exploited and does not provide environmental full cost accounting and neglects the downstream impacts.

So who else is saying no?  Scientists from many professional fields have reviewed recent projects and have challenged or, in some cases, refuted the claims made by industry in their project applications and are publicly stating their concerns with the science and process.  As a result, the public has become better informed and organized. The concerns are legitimate and  growing and a distrust has developed towards our regulatory system and industry.

For example, with respect to the oil spill risk in Burrard Inlet,  scientists have challenged and found fault with the Trans Mountain application with respect to: the oil spill modelling, air quality modelling/predictions; incorrect characterization of the ecology of the Inlet and shorelines; ignoring the sinking characteristics and the fate and behaviour of diluted bitumen in aqueous environments;  the inadequate containment and response capabilities or the impossible clean-up of spills, especially over the mudflats of the Maplewood Conservation Area and; ignoring  the long history of not consulting or involving Local Governments in emergency planning.

These criticisms are not unique to the Trans Mountain Pipeline application. The Site C dam is another example. Recently the  Royal Society of Canada  publicly supported the call to suspend the Site C dam construction (Peace River, BC, Canada). In addition, 250 scientists have released a “Statement of Concern” for Site C .

Further, substantial concerns have been raised by professionals regarding the Prosperity mine proposal that include:

Yes, the “mature conversation” is long overdue because the industry and our governments have not provided it or engaged in it.   This has been lacking for a very long time. The fact that industry and our Ministers makes such childish statements or run such TV ads shows their arrogance and displeasure with public scrutiny. Worse, are the millions of dollars industry spends on schmoozing and lobbying government in secret. The public have grown skeptical and for good reason.

In British Columbia, we are about to be saddled with several very expensive mega-projects (list below) with significant risks, none of which has presented any business case to justify them nor have they provided a process for public scrutiny  or  conducted any proper economic or environmental full cost accounting with impacts .

Unfortunately, the “say no to everything” list is quite long because of the thoughtless attitudes and the legacy of the”approve everything at all costs crowd” with no scrutiny that has prevailed for over 150 years across Canada. In some cases this toxic legacy has lasted for decades, impacting both human and environmental health. Another sad example of this legacy is the mercury contamination in the  Grassy River First Nation territory that was dumped into the river in the ’60s from upstream mining. (and guess who pays for this clean-up?; the Canadian taxpayer, but that is a topic for another time.) So in response, the youth of Grassy Narrows have released a beautiful song about their community and their pride. They will lead the change – Power to them!

These criticisms are not necessarily a rejection of all projects nor a criticism of the workers in these projects. The blame lies with the industries and our governments’ policies and legislation that perpetuate these inequities, deficiencies and one-sided processes.  This a rejection of the process and the lack of proper, open assessments.

The LNG project is a good example. The multi-billion dollar project is basically supported in concept but the process has lacked transparency with respect to the business case, science and whether the new Lelu Island port is the best location. So the project remains controversial and it appears the “no crowd” has interfered again, but in reality the scrutiny will ensure that the project is viable, done right and not based upon electioneering and political baffle-gab.

In summary, our governments have not been forthcoming or transparent with many projects with respect to the process, science, economics, full cost environmental accounting  or involvement of First Nations and the public.

  • Site c – relates to LNG  – economics not presented no process, science lacking
  • Trans Mountain Pipeline – seriously flawed and biased process, science lacking and political interference with many professionals now in opposition.
  • Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline – seriously flawed and biased process, science lacking and political interference with well-informed opposition
  • Prosperity Mine proposal – seriously flawed process , science lacking and political interference
  • LNG (liquefied natural gas) at Lelu Island:  The process, economics and science are lacking. The environmental assessment has been questioned by 130 scientists Lelu Island .
  • Port Mann bridge replacement – no process, a 10 lane bridge just appeared circumventing any previous planning
  • Massey Tunnel replacement – another mega bridge planned – no process, the decision was made without input

Until these deficiencies are fixed and confidence is returned, there will be a resounding NO every time.


Cover Photo: Fish Lake near Williams Lake, BC. The Prosperity Mine application was seriously proposing to drain this entire lake for a tailings pond until opposition mounted and the Feds denied the approval based on faulty science – yet the BC government still supports it.

fish lake to be drained

Photo – Fish Lake: Vancouver Sun, January 14, 2014








130 years later we still worship it.


San Marino

We visited San Marino, Italy a beautiful, medieval city atop a mountain.(San Marino is actually a very small country within Italy). The evening was warm as the setting sun cast a fading, yellowish hue across the old stone walls and buildings. People were leisurely strolling along the main street and square enjoying the serenity and ambiance when a loud throaty roar could be heard coming up from the street below.  Appearing from around the bend on the steep hill was a bright red sports car coming our way. The sound however was too loud for just one car.  Coming up the narrow winding street, a parade of several Farraris appeared  proudly revving their engines with staccato screeches of tires on the cobblestones. Continue reading

Don’t get old.

Sitting in his easy chair, he leans back and with more effort than it should take, pushes the little foot rest into place. An exhaled breath betrays the weakness now permeating his body.  His cardigan is thread bare at the sleeves and hangs open and loose over his shoulders. Tufts of grey hair sprout from under his once white T-shirt and prod the wrinkles of his neck.

Take my advice son, he mutters, “Don’t get old”. His face droops and shoulders sag. “I’ve had enough,” he sighs, the full weight of his 84 years pressing him deep into the chair like a g-force that grows greater with each passing year.

When did it come to this?‘  his son is thinking as he looks upon his future sitting in the chair in front of him. Continue reading