There’s been another pipeline leak in Alberta. About 230,000 litres of black gold has spilled all over farmland near Elk Point, northeast of Edmonton.
It’s the third dystopic gusher in a month. Crews are still working to clean up an 800,000 litre spill from a well owned by Pace Oil & Gas Ltd close to the Northwest Territories border, and a spill of up to 480,000 litres from a Plains Midstream Canada pipeline into the Red Deer River.
The pipeline involved in the most recent spill belongs to Enbridge. That company is currently undergoing community hearings in anticipation of building the Northern Gateway Pipeline from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, B.C. that’s set to traverse rugged mountains, pristine wilderness and areas of high geotechnical risk, including avalanches, slides and seismic activity.
The bitumin will then be loaded onto supertankers bound for Asia that really have no hope of safely navigating the notoriously treacherous waters of the Inside Passage.
In April, NDP leader Adrian Dix said that “under the Enbridge proposal, British Columbia would assume almost all the project’s risk, yet would see only a fraction of the benefits. By any measure, such a high-risk, low-return approach simply isn’t in B.C.’s interests.”
In May, Premier Christy Clark described the Northern Gateway project as “a balance of risk and benefit.” She admitted that the project would create almost no jobs in B.C. “It creates some jobs in the construction phase but there are very few long-term jobs that would be left in the province after that.” Like Dix, she concluded that it’s a high-risk, low-return game. “B.C. is taking 100 per cent of the risk. But at the moment B.C. gets about the same benefit as Nova Scotia.”
The risk-benefit ratio could improve, of course, if Alberta offers B.C. access fees or a share of royalties. But it’s still a no-win proposition when one calculates the profound costs of the inevitable spills and the loss of the coastline, the fisheries, and the ancestral grounds of First Nations livelihood and culture.
Just last week the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report, A Green Industrial Revolution, showing that carbon-intensive industrial policies can be overcome and a transition made to a sustainable economy and a zero carbon Canada.
It’s scarcely the first report of its kind. Such possibilities are anything but new news. There’s actually no reason for Canadians to be browbeaten into embracing fossil fuel development as a divine order and oil spills as the status quo by politicians who are acting on behalf of their corporate sponsors, the oil and gas industry, rather than their constituents.