Sunday February 12, 2012

Rafe & Betty Commentary

Oil Mountain

China discovers Kitimat

Submitted by B. Krawczyk, Cumberland BC


ow did this happen? Well, it seems that the Kitimat area is where a big part of Canadaís proposed shale gas extraction and Enbridge pipe line conjoins. It follows that this is where the action is threatening to bubble up big time, for the Chinese as well as for First Nations and Canadians at large.


Petro China International, already a major investor in Alberta oil sands and the Enbridge pipe line, and who has also recently agreed to buy full ownership of Mackay River Oil Sands in Alberta (Glove and Mail, Feb.3) is definitely interested in the shale gas extraction. And Kitimat is where itís at.


Soon Petro China officials will be sweetly escorted onto whatever Kitimat area they might fancy. Who will be escorting?  Most probably Kristy Clark and Kevin Falcon (Harper at the moment is in China, warmly courting the Chinese in his eagerness to sell CanadaÖliterally). Holding up his end,  I feel sure that Mr. Falcon will repeat his admiration for the way Chinese authorities have conditioned their people to accept whatever environmental destruction accompanies resource extraction, just the way Mr. Falcon did in reference to his destruction of Eagleridge Bluffs. But he was only kidding, Mr. Falcon said later, after his remarks were reported. Kidding? I donít think many of us laughed.


For all of this oil and gas extraction excitement sweeping the Harper and Clark governments, there doesnít seem to be any upside for First Nations or Canadians in general. Monstrous amounts of water are used in the process of extracting natural gas.  My understanding is that this water after use is so poisoned it canít be recycled. 


This is hugely, hugely problematic. There is only so much drinkable water and moisture on this planet and all of it is constantly being recycled by nature. If this water canít be recycled safely by Mother Nature then billions of tons of water will be taken out of natureís recycling system. Which means, of course, that this life giving water will be denied to the rest of the earthís inhabitants, including, of course, people. And all happening at a time when drought is threatening many lands, including the state of Texas. I wonder what all the Texas oil tycoons are drinking.


In the process of extracting natural gas (called fracking) the gas companies bore deeply into the earth, deeper than any usual kind of resource extraction. This may prove to be a significant disruption of the soil and rocks and bacteria.  In fact, this process raises a worry in some quarters that fracking may seriously disturb the natural equilibrium of the earth itself in the area.


So this is the proposed scenarioÖwe will have the Enbridge pipe line that may leak in many places, oil tankers full of oil alongside other carriers hauling natural gasÖcan you imagine the fireworks if the two different carriers should collide? And what do Canadians get from this combined domestic and foreign invasion of Kitimat? Besides the risk of living in a hell of oil slicks and gas fumes and a dearth of drinking water? Well, primarily higher oil and gas prices (CBC News, Feb.2).


Letís all join hands symbolically and love Kitimat. Itís not decent for Harper to sell our resources to a global giant like China who doesnít care how the extraction is carried out. Letís ask the First Nations to invite us to come and be with them when this oil and gas pot starts bubbling over.  It will take all of us when the time comes.


Shiver Rhodes Publishing






Sunday February 12, 2012


Spawning Catastrophe

Enbridge banking on tankers 

Submitted by Rafe Mair, West Vancouver, BC


This from the CBC:


Canadian oil and business executives are well-represented in the delegation travelling to China with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, with oil exports expected to be high on the government's agenda.


A delegation assigned to Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver includes eight mining or oil and gas companies.


That list of companies includes none other than Enbridge, Inc.


The prime minister and his government are asking for a show down and my experience here this past weekend in Prince Rupert indicates that the Enbridge deal, about which more in a moment, is going to spawn a First Nations and supporters v. industry and government fight compared to which all other showdowns will seem like minor incidents.


First, let's look at the Enbridge deal from the point of view of First Nations both in their territory over which the pipeline travels and those on the coast where the consequent tanker traffic will go.


Enbridge, one of the largest pipeline companies in the world, has an utterly appalling safety record. In fact since 1998 they have had 811 "accidents". See here. They now tell us that with that record, mostly in easy geographical situations, they can take on the hugely difficult route to Kitimat "accident free" (or that they have a "plan" to deal adequately with spills if they occur).


The pipeline they propose, and Harper and Co. support, is about 1100km from the Alberta Tar Sands to Kitimat over and through both The Rockies, The Coast Range and over 1000 rivers and streams, including critical sources of three major salmon runs. To put this in perspective, in July of 2010 Enbridge had an "accident" which spilled over a million gallons of crude oil

near the Kalamazoo River which is near Marshall in Michigan, a populated area.


Two notes from that: the cleanup continues and most observers say it will never be completed and this spill is, unlike the Rockies/Coast Range, easy to access with machinery. And another note: the spill was crude oil, which is bad enough, while the Enbridge pipeline would carry bitumen going west and condensate (the stuff they mix with bitumen) east - bitumen is far more

viscous than crude oil.


The last points are very important for that there will be a spill from the Enbridge Northern Gateway line is not a risk but a mathematical certainty, and will happen in places only accessible by helicopter and the damage will be permanent no matter the company does.


We have then 1100 km of venomous gunk of which there will be spills in wild areas inaccessible except by helicopter, which spills threaten precious wildlife and fish, which spills will be there forever. And let's be clear on this - these spills will happen again and again.


Mr. Harper and his government, dirty hand in dirty hand with Enbridge and the Chinese giant Sinopec, are bound and determined to impose this on the people of British Columbia.


What of our fellow citizens, First Nations? They come into this awful business in two ways - those whose lands have not been ceded and those who live, as they have for centuries on the coast. At this point there are 131 nations absolutely opposed to Enbridge stepping one millimeter into BC.


Enbridge and the two governments are convinced that these First Nations can and will be bought off. And this point must be considered.


Damien Gillis and I were at the huge First Nations rally in Prince Rupert this past weekend and we can both say with confidence that this will not happen - certainly not amongst those represented there. We were both at the historic Save the Fraser Declaration" press conference last December and saw the resolve in the faces of these leaders.


I saw the resolve when I spoke to 500 on Saturday night as I received a hearty standing ovation. I spoke with them afterwards and I can tell Mr. Harper and his resident toady, Resources Minister Joe Oliver, that they have badly and dangerously misread the situation.


The coastal nations know that they must help their eastern brethren in order to help themselves. In the words of spokesman and much admired Gerald Amos of the Haisla Nation, "It isn't going to happen."


What's the matter with our governments? Don't they understand that there is no way you can settle or compromise this issue? You can't have half a pipeline or smaller boats!


Premier Christy Clark is a big player in this game because she can put a ban on tankers. The fact is that Gordon Campbell sent a note to Ottawa some years ago saying that his government had no issue with tanker traffic and Premier Photo-Op no doubt thinks that takes her government off the hook.


Think again, lady.


Prophets of doom are often, like all messengers, blamed when their prophecies come to pass. I'll run that risk and tell you fairly that I don't believe that First Nations can be bribed and that the governments and Enbridge are begging for them and thousands of supporters, growing every day, to resort to violence.


People all around this province, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, are sending the governments, China and Enbridge a very solemn message: Don't do it.


For in your words, Mr Harper, "there will be consequences."


Here is my blog on The Common Sense Canadian and just a gentle reminder that my latest book, The Home Stretch is available at and at the ridiculous price of $9.99









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