Pipe­lines and pro­tec­tors

The Southern Gazette - - Editorial -

If we were able to stand back and look ob­jec­tively, with­out any pre­con­ceived bias, at these con­fronta­tions, there might be a sug­ges­tion that the oil and gas in­dus­try needs the en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist.

The Al­berta vs. British Columbia pipe­line fight is get­ting re­ally nasty, with the po­ten­tial to draw in the ad­ja­cent prov­inces. The Feds are back­ing Al­berta over B.C. in the fight and, in light of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s stated will­ing­ness to use public money to cover any losses by Kinder Mor­gan as a re­sult of po­lit­i­cal de­lays, the po­ten­tial is in­creas­ing for an im­pend­ing Feds vs. the Cana­dian tax­payer knock-em-down dragem-out bat­tle of the ages.

And, of course, a car­bon tax that is bound to hurt ev­ery­one fi­nan­cially but, for the mo­ment and with­out too much more con­ver­sa­tion, looks to be the key to re­duc­tion in cli­mate change.

The Kinder Mor­gan Tran­sMoun­tain pipe­line, as well as the Key­stone XL pipe­line and oth­ers, have pit­ted the oil and gas in­dus­try against the en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, whose over­rid­ing goal is to re­duce cli­mate change and pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment, on be­half of the public as a whole.

There would ap­pear to be lit­tle room for movement on ei­ther side, as each stakes out its territory, so to speak, with the sure and cer­tain knowl­edge that the op­pos­ing view­point is wrong, to­tally with­out foun­da­tion, and con­trary to our pop­u­la­tion’s overall needs on a broader scale.

Has any­one ever taken the time to eval­u­ate, just in dol­lar terms if noth­ing else, the to­tal cost of these con­fronta­tions? The lob­by­ing of gov­ern­ment and oth­ers, the public ad­ver­tis­ing and pro­mo­tion of one side to the detri­ment of the other, not to men­tion the most sig­nif­i­cant cost - the cost that dwarfs all else, the cost that can serve to to­tally bring down and de­stroy both sides, the dol­lar cost as­so­ci­ated with an en­vi­ron­men­tal dis­as­ter?

The pos­si­bil­ity of the lat­ter has been proven, time and again as of late, to be much higher than any of us would have ven­tured.

Now, to the afore­men­tioned dol­lar costs, add the en­vi­ron­men­tal costs of these dis­as­ters, the costs of los­ing a part of this Earth that may never again be re­cov­ered or re­plen­ished.

If we were able to stand back and look ob­jec­tively, with­out any pre­con­ceived bias, at these con­fronta­tions, there might be a sug­ges­tion that the oil and gas in­dus­try needs the en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist. In fact, there would be some who would sug­gest that, in the same way that busi­ness needs in­de­pen­dent au­di­tors and ac­coun­tants to an­nu­ally re­port upon their busi­ness op­er­a­tions, the oil and gas in­dus­try needs in­de­pen­dent not-for-profit en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions that re­port an­nu­ally upon its op­er­a­tions from the per­spec­tive of en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

And the terms “in­de­pen­dent” and “not-for-profit” are key, if we are to pre­vent busi­ness vul­tures from hi­jack­ing such an un­der­tak­ing in or­der to line their own pockets. Af­ter all, this is the ba­sis for a new in­dus­try, with the ac­com­pa­ny­ing well-paid jobs.

Some might sug­gest that the oil and gas in­dus­try would in fact be “in money,” in a ma­jor way, if it were to en­gage the en­vi­ron­men­tal in­dus­try to bring its unique tal­ents and per­spec­tive to the process of dis­man­tling por­tions of the earth, one piece at a time. Who bet­ter to pro­vide guid­ance in the pre­ven­tion of such dis­as­ters, big and small! Who bet­ter to ad­vise the re­source in­dus­try on best practices to en­sure long-term uti­liza­tion and re­newal of the re­source for the ben­e­fit of all!

There is a place for gov­ern­ment in this model, but only in the leg­is­la­tion and ad­min­is­tra­tion of the overall en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sur­ance process.

Time to start talk­ing ... to each other!

Dave Ran­dell Mount Pearl

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