Toxic without the pipeline

Toxic environment even without a pipeline

Get out of the sandbox and start negotiating a settlement.

The dispute between Alberta and BC is getting to be as entertaining as the latest reality TV show in the U.S.,  “Trump & Order” or is it “Law & Trump." Somehow neither of them seem to fit.

What is different about the B.C./Alberta dispute is that it is a single issue drama series. Ordinarily politicians look for common ground.

  • Discuss
  • Negotiate
  • Play poker
  • Settle on a solution

In this instance, both provincial leaders appear to have jumped in to the sandbox together and started playing childish games.

At the same time, let's be clear, there is nothing at all childish about provincial and federal economics and nothing at all childish about the sanctity of the Pacific Northwest coastline. 

There are untold economic reasons to approve the pipeline and the federal government has sided with Alberta in stating the importance to the economy of exporting oil via a western pipeline. As a free-enterprise capitalist, I totally support the economic argument.

As an avid outdoor recreational participant who appreciates the natural environment, I hear, and can empathize, with the government of B.C.

For decades, the people of Canada, including First Nations, corporations and governments have been complicit in destroying the environment in the favour of the economy. The eternal challenge is that the damage is compounding. 

Reclamation fees don’t do justice to the clean up required post operations and we end up walking away from toxic environments that are left for hundreds of years in the hope that they will clean up naturally.

A few years ago, I was in a meeting in another country that was trying to deal with fine tailing ponds left behind by a Canadian corporation that sold their assets, including the fine tailing ponds.

We were talking to engineers on the project who indicated that there was no technology to clean up the ponds. They were highly toxic and the only plan was to continue diluting them with sea water for the next 200 years, by which time the toxicity will have been suitably diluted.

Can we build leak-proof pipelines? I don’t doubt.

Can we build double-hulled ships and navigation systems and protocols that avoid disasters at sea? Of course, we can.

Can we co-ordinate disaster response teams to mitigate in the unlikely event of a spill? Sure we can.

The question is not whether or not we can. Of course, we can.

The question is whether we will.

History has shown us that in most instances we take the money and run leaving someone else to clean up the mess. In many instances the gross revenues from projects do not provide enough money to clean up the mess. In which case, remind me of the economic benefit again.

As I recall, B.C. has unresolved questions on guarantees of pipeline safety, commitment to safe shipping and bonding to ensure rapid response disaster recovery teams would be available. 

All of these things are, of course, possible, the only economics that often come in to play are in the boardroom where budgets are cut because the cost of initiation was much higher than projected with all the pesky meetings. The recipient of the budget cuts is usually the detrimental effects on the environment.

I respectfully submit that both sides to the argument are important, but until our political leaders get out of the sandbox and into the same room to negotiate, discuss and debate as adults, this will be a stalemate for much longer than we all would wish.

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About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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