firstname.lastname@example.org Nov 28/16
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.
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.