In light of the recent announcement from the BC Premier’s office regarding the pending approval of the Enbridge pipeline and the seeming universal backlash over it, I’d like to address those who are unconditionally opposed to it.
Allow us to pretend for a minute that you get what you want. The pipeline is not approved to go through BC, the BC environment is saved from the inevitable bitumen spills and the BC coastline remains pristine for future generations. A win for all the world to be sure.
Since the pipeline is denied the Canadian economy stops. BC and Alberta develop unemployment rates higher than Ontario overnight. Unemployment rates in Ontario and the Maritimes go up because Fort Macmurry employs tens of thousands of workers flying them in from as far as Nova Scotia. Fort Mac isn’t the only place to stop though, all the liquid natural gas production in Northern BC is put on hold as well because all that growth was based on a pipeline heading to worthwhile asian markets that would pay 3 times the North American rate. Overall this oil industry slowdown would amount to a minimum of 1 Million Canadians losing their jobs. The ripple effect of that carrying into their families and the commercial businesses they support amounting to an immediate hole of 50 Billion Dollars pulled from the Canadian Economy. How did I get that number? A low end oil industry wage pays $50,000 per year. 1 million people losing that amounts to 50 Billion. That’s at a minimum.
That’s still survivable, after all the GDP of Canada is 1.7 Trillion, 50 Billion is barely a drop in that bucket. So now we get to our international reputation. It becomes better because we are polluting less and saving our pristine environment which might make up for that KYOTO fiasco. Except oddly that’s not what happens at all.
China, which has been investing heavily in Canadian oil and gas reserves is suddenly demanding it’s money back. The companies that took that money have borrow it from the banks to pay back China, except the banks are struggling because a million home owners are defaulting on their mortgages and can’t cover those debts, they petition the government for a “bail out” like Spain and Greece. The international investment community gets wind of that and the Canadian stock market crashes bankrupting everyone’s grandmothers as their pensions become worthless. Meanwhile China still needs that oil. It can’t rely on Middle Eastern oil reserves indefinitely because the United States deliberately destabilizes that region and while Russian reserves are good they don’t lessen the need to diversify as 10,000 new automobiles hit the Chinese roads every day. Energy is a country’s life blood and when you start losing blood you do something about that. War becomes more likely. China is a nuclear power, they start exercising that power. But long before that, they’d begin putting economic pressure on the USA to pressure Canada into getting that pipeline through.
Any one of these consequences would be enough of an arm twist to turn any politician from a tree hugging, granola munching, hippie into Dick Cheney. Dick Cheney is pro-pipeline, so he stops listening to all his granola munching hippie friends and green lights it right. Fucking. Now. Probably with less oversight than before because he LEARNED HIS LESSON. (And probably had his life threatened by both the Canadians who lost their jobs, and the Chinese corporations who want their ROI.)
This is the reality we live in. That pipeline is going through. Are there issues with it? Absolutely. Should we address the the issue of what port it is being pumped-to? Probably would be a start. Should we leverage our environmental concerns for a big royalty cheque that we can bank on to pay for the inevitable oil spills? We better.
So please, everyone who is environmentally conscious. I continue to fight, but fight with a bit of understanding that you can’t stop this but you CAN direct it. Do that.