Rad­i­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal ide­ol­ogy

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY MARCO NAVARRO-GE­NIE Marco Navarro-Ge­nie is the pres­i­dent of the At­lantic In­sti­tute for Mar­ket Stud­ies (www.AIMS.ca).

Cana­di­ans ev­ery­where have a crit­i­cal role to play in keep­ing Canada’s econ­omy mov­ing for­ward. But while con­tin­u­ing to abide by our al­ready ex­cel­lent en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards, we must also en­sure that rad­i­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists do not im­pair our chances for fu­ture eco­nomic growth and pros­per­ity for all Cana­di­ans.

By push­ing for a to­tal stop­page of hy­dro­car­bon energy projects, such as Al­berta and Saskatchewan’s oil sands and At­lantic Canada’s off­shore oil and gas pro­duc­tion, rad­i­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist ac­tivists are will­fully ig­nor­ing the gi­ant strides that the energy sec­tor — which al­most sin­gle­hand­edly main­tained our re­cent eco­nomic pros­per­ity at a time when the rest of the world suf­fered through a se­vere eco­nomic cri­sis — has al­ready made in re­duc­ing our emis­sions. The rad­i­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists are also turn­ing their backs on the in­ge­nu­ity of Cana­dian work­ers who are cur­rently at the cut­ting edge of in­no­va­tion in pre­serv­ing our bo­real forests, re­claim­ing for­mer in­dus­trial lands, con­serv­ing our wa­ter, pro­tect­ing our fauna, re­duc­ing emis­sions and sav­ing energy.

We in the At­lantic prov­inces have a chance to learn from mis­takes made else­where by set­ting a dif­fer­ent tone for energy de­vel­op­ment con­ducted re­spon­si­bly and sus­tain­ably. The At­lantic re­gion can gain sig­nif­i­cantly from fur­ther hy­dro­car­bon energy de­vel­op­ment with­out sac­ri­fic­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards, as ex­em­pli­fied by our off­shore de­vel­op­ment in Nova Sco­tia and in New­found­land and Labrador.

Hy­draulic well stim­u­la­tion has also opened the prom­ise of greater pros­per­ity, energy in­de­pen­dence and the gen­er­a­tion of cleaner, less ex­pen­sive fu­els to heat our homes and pro­pel our in­no­va­tive in­dus­tries and busi­nesses for­ward, while re­duc­ing the need from ex­pen­sive trans­porta­tion. Nat­u­ral gas from off­shore projects has al­ready nour­ished hopes for more jobs for At­lantic Cana­di­ans and brought us closer to keep­ing more of our young and bright­est work­ing right here in our re­gion.

The greater op­por­tu­nity of­fered by re­spon­si­ble energy de­vel­op­ment will also at­tract more cut­ting edge busi­nesses and job cre­ators to open of­fices in the At­lantic prov­inces, thereby gen­er­at­ing more wealth to pay for our in­fra­struc­ture and our so­cial pro­grams.

Un­for­tu­nately, green ex­trem­ists and rad­i­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists are pro­mot­ing an alarmist and un­bal­anced pol­icy agenda that will hurt At­lantic Cana­dian work­ers and en­dan­ger eco­nomic pros­per­ity right across the coun­try.

The claim by the Coun­cil of Cana­di­ans about the ex­ag­ger­ated dan­gers of ex­pand­ing a pipeline net­work right along an al­ready ex­ist­ing pipeline or the one from ex­treme en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists that re­vers­ing the flow in­side a pipeline for Energy East will have dev­as­tat­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal con­se­quences are spu­ri­ous. The en­vi­ron­ment, af­ter all, is in­dif­fer­ent to the di­rec­tion of a pipeline’s flow. And At­lantic Cana­dian work­ers are very in­ter­ested in Energy East be­cause it rep­re­sents more pros­per­ity and jobs com­ing to our re­gion.

As many of these fu­ture jobs will be union jobs, the call by the Coun­cil of Cana­di­ans to shut down the oil sands and sim­i­lar job-cre­at­ing projects is a sad re­flec­tion of its will­ing­ness to sac­ri­fice the in­ter­ests of At­lantic Cana­dian work­ers and their fam­i­lies in the name of its rad­i­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist ide­ol­ogy.

At a time when the Cana­dian econ­omy and At­lantic Cana­dian fam­i­lies need more pros­per­ity, we should rather rely on the ad­vice of Nova Sco­tia’s Wheeler Re­port and the re­cent U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) re­port call­ing on a more rea­soned and thought­ful ap­proach to well-stim­u­la­tion tech­nolo­gies. Energy de­vel­op­ment pol­icy needs to in­clude clean, more eco­nomic, job-pro­duc­ing nat­u­ral gas.

We must not al­low nar­row in­ter­est groups and their ex­treme views to re­strain the At­lantic prov­inces and ren­der hol­low the prom­ises of greater pros­per­ity the re­gion has been wait­ing for, for so long.

Canada’s en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards and con­ser­va­tion poli­cies are the envy of many coun­tries around the world. Energy de­vel­op­ment con­ducted re­spon­si­bly need not be hi­jacked by ex­treme ac­tivists, how­ever well-in­ten­tioned they may be. The fu­ture of our chil­dren and the preser­va­tion of our cul­ture in the At­lantic re­gion de­serve more bal­anced ap­proaches.

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