Oil trans­port dilem­mas

Lethbridge Herald - - READER’S FORUM -

Pro-pipe­line lead­ers are de­ter­mined to get the Trans Moun­tain ex­pan­sion built; op­po­nents vowed to stop or de­lay this project. Both sides be­lieve their plan is good for Canada.

The ju­di­cial sys­tem must pro­tect the rights of both sides. Anti-pipe­line groups can sue end­lessly about pro­ce­dures. Haven’t they had enough time for gain­ing in­for­ma­tion and voic­ing com­plaints? If the courts agree with them, the rights of the propipeline side, los­ing mil­lions of dol­lars per day, are jeop­ar­dized. Con­struc­tion work­ers are left in limbo.

Anti-pipe­line ac­tivists stress the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect of oil spills on na­ture. They say less about rail­way spills.

Re­al­ity check: De­spite th­ese risks, anti-oil protesters use oil prod­ucts to pro­pel and lu­bri­cate their ve­hi­cles, boats, planes and trains. Oil prod­ucts reach them by high-risk trans­port: rail­road, tanker-ships or tanker-trucks. It seems in­con­sis­tent to be an­tip­ipeline but us­ing un­safe routes to at­tain oil for per­sonal use.

The pro-pipe­line side high­lights oil as a lu­cra­tive Cana­dian re­source. The in­come it gen­er­ates may trickle down to cit­i­zens as jobs, tax-cuts, in­fra­struc­ture, ser­vices and pros­per­ity.

Trans­port­ing oil by pipe­line is faster, cheaper and safer than by rail­way. A train with 100 oil cars is ac­tu­ally a 1.6-kilo­me­tre pipe­line on 800 wheels mov­ing on two steel tracks. Th­ese bombs-onwheels run through many cities and towns. If only one of those wheels over­heats, or one rail section shifts eight cen­time­tres, it may cause a de­rail­ment, spill, ex­plo­sion and fire. Pipe­lines usu­ally skirt towns and their spills sel­dom ig­nite.

Re­al­ity check: Cli­mate change may force hu­man­ity within 20 years to aban­don the use of fos­sil fu­els for propul­sion and elec­tric­ity. Man­u­fac­tur­ers are switch­ing to elec­tric cars. Pipe­lines may be­come re­dun­dant.

It seems best to sell our oil while it’s still in de­mand; in the mean­time, we should pre­pare for the day when oil prod­ucts will be un­wanted.

How will the world pro­duce enough power for bil­lions of homes, busi­nesses, street­lights and elec­tric ve­hi­cles when coal and oil are banned? Sun, wind and wa­ter will not pro­duce enough elec­tric­ity.

It’s time to start ap­ply­ing re­search done on hy­dro­gen — a clean, abun­dant and re­cy­clable en­ergy source, which ex­isted be­fore light (Gen. 1:2-3). Ex­ist­ing cars can be mod­i­fied to run on ei­ther hy­dro­gen or gaso­line; they don’t have to be dumped im­me­di­ately.

Ja­cob Van Zyl


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