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Letter: Time for both sides to talk about pipelines

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The Alberta vs. British Columbia pipeline fight is getting really nasty, with the potential to draw in the adjacent provinces. The Feds are backing Alberta over B.C. in the fight and, in light of the federal government’s stated willingness to use public money to cover any losses by Kinder Morgan as a result of political delays, the potential is increasing for an impending Feds vs. the Canadian taxpayer knock-em-down drag-em-out battle of the ages.

And, of course, a carbon tax that is bound to hurt everyone financially but, for the moment and without too much more conversation, looks to be the key to reduction in climate change. 

The Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain pipeline, as well as the Keystone XL pipeline and others, have pitted the oil and gas industry against the environmentalists, whose overriding goal is to reduce climate change and protect the environment, on behalf of the public as a whole.

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There would appear to be little room for movement on either side, as each stakes out its territory, so to speak, with the sure and certain knowledge that the opposing viewpoint is wrong, totally without foundation, and contrary to our population’s overall needs on a broader scale.

Has anyone ever taken the time to evaluate, just in dollar terms if nothing else, the total cost of these confrontations? The lobbying of government and others, the public advertising and promotion of one side to the detriment of the other, not to mention the most significant cost — the cost that dwarfs all else, the cost that can serve to totally bring down and destroy both sides, the dollar cost associated with an environmental disaster?

The possibility of the latter has been proven, time and again as of late, to be much higher than any of us would have ventured.

Now, to the aforementioned dollar costs, add the environmental costs of these disasters, the costs of losing a part of this Earth that may never again be recovered or replenished.

If we were able to stand back and look objectively, without any preconceived bias, at these confrontations, there might be a suggestion that the oil and gas industry needs the environmentalist. In fact, there would be some who would suggest that, in the same way that business needs independent auditors and accountants to annually report upon their business operations, the oil and gas industry needs independent not-for-profit environmental organizations that report annually upon its operations from the perspective of environmental impact.

And the terms “independent” and “not-for-profit” are key, if we are to prevent business vultures from hijacking such an undertaking in order to line their own pockets. After all, this is the basis for a new industry, with the accompanying well-paid jobs.

Some might suggest that the oil and gas industry would in fact be “in money,” in a major way, if it were to engage the environmental industry to bring its unique talents and perspective to the process of dismantling portions of the earth, one piece at a time. Who better to provide guidance in the prevention of such disasters, big and small! Who better to advise the resource industry on best practices to ensure long-term utilization and renewal of the resource for the benefit of all!

There is a place for government in this model, but only in the legislation and administration of the overall environmental assurance process. 

Time to start talking … to each other!

Dave Randell

Mount Pearl

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