Friday, 3 August 2012

Day 24, North America's Wilderness, Letter to Minister of Environment

In good(?) news, according to Toronto Star, Enbridge will comply with BC Premier Clark's request for “world-leading” prevention and response to oil spills by adding $500 million of safety measures, such as thicker pipes.

Here's a snippet with some information I didn't know about Canada's wilderness:

Who doesn't love infographs? See it all at:

How big of a difference will the $500m make?  No one knows until we try it out, as the measures are to be "world-leading".

Today's letter is to Canada's environment minister, and once again it's recycled.

From my quick bout of web searching, the Environmental Minister hasn't been too behind much environmental stuff lately. Disappointing. Shouldn't his job be "That darn Hippy Minister always fighting for the whales and whatever" or at least, "That darn Minister, always forcing us to take a step back and reconsider our decisions and their impact on the environment" ?

Instead of quotes from Kent such as "Pipelines are still, by far, the safest way to transport petrochemicals in any form," how about "There are things we can put some large-scale investment in, beyond petrochemicals"?

I'm happy that the Enbridge pipeline will have increased environmental safety measures, but is it enough? Canada's wilderness is unique and important...trying out these regulations seems like a science experiment we don't really need.  Let's experiment with greener jobs and renewable energy instead, where the biggest "spills" are much more benign.  

Here are some other reasons that, as Environment Minister, you should consider and include in your opinions when asked about supporting the pipeline:

1)    Expense. Building the pipeline is a significant amount of money, and making it to a high safety standard will be cost prohibitive. At the end of the day, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee that there will be no spills or accidents. It’s not worth the costs required to make the margin smaller.

It makes far more fiscal sense to invest the money by increasing renewable energy, increasing the efficiency with which we use our energy, and investing in better infrastructure so that people are more likely to live close to home and are able to walk or bike to work. These new skill requirements will create a huge amount of jobs.

2)    Spills happen from time to time. The pipeline is often in more remote areas, which means workers have to work at a very high level of safety which is difficult and expensive. Renewable energy and energy conservation (if done well) is much safer, both for workers and the environment.

3)    Comparative advantage and foreign currency. Countries such as China are using solar panels and wind power at an increasing rate. If we work hard and become experts at creating renewable energy and energy efficiency or smart grid systems, we can still sell our products and expertise and gain money there.

4)    Global reputation. Investing in the pipeline will not make us popular internationally.  Everyone can benefit from what we learn if we invest in renewables and efficiency instead, even those with which we could have traded oil.  A few friends and a world of unhappiness, or a world where everyone appreciates and respects our protectiveness.

5) The Environment, Tourism, and Canada's Identity. Canada (particularly BC) is famous for its natural resources. Most Canadians are proud of their wilderness, even if the majority of their contact is going to a friend's cottage once a year. Tourism generates a large amount of revenue and jobs, which would be at risk if there was a spill of some sort.

Thank you


Sent To:
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Phone: 613-992-0253     

1 comment:

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