Quesnel needs oil as much as anywhere else
By Colin Kinsley
Quesnel Cariboo Observer Friday, June 7, 2013
As discussion and citizen engagement continue over the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, people are taking a step back and assessing the project in a broader, societal context. I for one think that’s a positive thing.
In 2010, according to the International Energy Agency, 81 per cent of the world’s primary energy consumption came from fossil fuels
And the vast majority of our transportation runs on fossil fuels, whether it’s moving people or goods locally or around the world.
Some may advocate simply cutting off the fossil fuel supply overnight (no new pipelines, no tankers, no
oilsands, no fracking). One hopes we’ll be able
to develop technologies that will allow us to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels – but it will take decades for this to happen.
Cutting off fossil fuels now would only result in extreme human hardship given the lack of alternatives.
The fact is we need oil in Quesnel just as much as everywhere else – and we’ll continue to need it for a long time into the future.
In the meantime, the oil has to be moved – safely and securely without a doubt – from where it has been lying for millions of years to where the market demands it.
For that, there are only
a limited number of alternatives: oil can be run through a pipeline, or shipped on rail cars, or loaded onto tanker trucks.
But compared to other modes of transport, pipelines have proven to be the safest means of transporting fuels.
It’s unfortunate that some opponents simply discount the benefits of the oilsands and pipelines to British Columbia and the country, while exaggerating the risks.
But you need to know that Northern Gateway will be one of the largest investments of private capital in B.C. history and will bring huge economic benefits to Quesnel and this province as a whole – including long-term jobs, community development
and projected tax revenues of $1.2 billion.
As a former mayor of Prince George, I can state clearly that B.C.’s north and the northwest coast regions have a long history of industrial development including forestry, mining, electrical transmission and even other pipeline developments.
In fact, much development has occurred through history along the proposed Northern Gateway right-of-way, which follows a route designed to minimize impacts on the area by taking advantage of already disturbed tracts of land.
These already- disturbed tracts include forest service roads,
harvested areas, electrical transmission routes and vehicle access routes.
In truth, very few segments of the proposed pipeline will require new rights-of-way through undisturbed forest.
And the Douglas Channel is no stranger to industrial marine traffic – including tankers carrying petrochemicals.
It has a decades- long history as a safe, deepwater entrance to a port providing strategic advantages for accessing Asian markets.
We should all work together to improve industry’s environmental performance.
We should accept the challenge to reduce our personal reliance on fossil fuels while we recognize
the world will continue to need oil – and pipelines – for the foreseeable future.
Working together with B.C. communities, demanding the best environmental performance possible and understanding the world’s need for oil for everything from transportation to heating, cooking, manufacturing and healthcare, are all reasonable ways to move this province toward a brighter future for all British Columbians.
Colin Kinsley is the former mayor of Prince George and current Chair of the Northern Gateway Alliance, a grassroots coalition in support of the regulatory review process assessing Northern Gateway.