Recently I was asked to sign a petition that would ban oil tankers off the B.C. coast; I respectfully declined. This idea is not a realistic approach to the debate on oil production from the oil sands of Alberta or the transportation of bitumen for export.
We in B.C. use a lot of oil products and fuel in our daily lives. The logging, mining, commercial fishing industries plus our own personal use demand that these products be available. It would be hypocritical to deny that.
Where do B.C.’s oil products originate? I, for one, don’t really know. If they come from countries such as Saudi Arabia we should be ashamed of ourselves. These products should be made here in B.C. or in Alberta.
To be profitable, oil companies also need to export their products and to do this they still need to ship their products in tankers off our coast. I am in full agreement that we should support the construction of new refineries such as David Black has proposed. Refined oil products are far less damaging to the environment than bitumen. As people of British Columbia and Canada we should be demanding from both industry and government that refined oil products are produced here in our own country.
We should also demand a more stable pricing system for fuel in Canada. I am tired of being gouged every time an incident happens in the world or there is a long weekend coming up. This would be one benefit that most of us would agree with.
The increased employment and economic benefits to B.C.’s economy from the building of refineries in our province cannot be overlooked. I have worked personally in the oil industry and employment opportunities are opening to everyone. Jobs are generally high-paying with good benefit packages, and safety is a high priority. As with all industry there is a risk to the environment, but I believe it can be minimized. We must demand a high degree of oversight from both federal and provincial governments.
It is highly unlikely that the demand for oil products is going to end soon. The internal combustion engine is not going to die quietly and petrochemical products are still required. I believe we can and should develop our country’s oil and gas resources and that we can and must do it responsibly.