READERS WRITE: Looking forward and not backward on oil transport

A reader writes, saying he believes in the benefits outweighing the risks associated with Northern Gateway.

Dear Sir,

Billion of barrels of oil are transported worldwide every day. That’s a fact.

It is so endemic, if it were to instantaneously vaporize the world would come to a screeching halt within hours.

Every aspect of our daily lives is impacted by its use and availability, yet most of us are uncomfortable broaching the subject with our neighbours, having been exposed to years of images of oil soaked birds and ancient tankers aground. Powerful stuff.

Imagine if we were subjected to a like campaign of gruesome images of airline crashes.

The Exxon Valdez grounding, that oft referred to incident the environmentalist hardliners adore, occurred prior to the existence of the Internet.

Technological advances in the succeeding years exceed man’s accomplishments a million fold over his entire previous history.

Yet some would have us believe oil is still being transported via something akin to urns and bamboo piping.

Give the environmental groups their due, however.

Upgrades in safety, embracing responsibility of the marine sector, and perhaps even the dispension of an initial cavalier approach can be attributed, to some extent, to them and First Nation concerns.

The present Northern Gateway project is a far cry from the initial proposal.

It must be made clear however, these changes didn’t materialize on a picket line, or courtroom. The changes came about through the dialogue created in venues like community advisory boards; through the exchange of diverse views, in meetings comprised of environmental, First Nation, proponents, and the general public.

Given all the pipeline and tanker traffic throughout the world, what seems to make this proposal so controversial?

There is disturbing evidence, big business interests in the US are involved in an attempt to influence the direction of Canadian oil. After all they receive our oil at massively discounted rates. Utilizing the good intentions of various enviro/First Nation groups, they are apparently donating huge funds surreptitiously through enviro-industries like the Tides Foundation, in a cynical attempt to derail the Gateway project.

With little or no knowledge of where the proceeds originate from, the front line individuals are unknowingly serving the interests of the very entities they are so publicly combatting.

With the pipeline referendum imminent, I made an effort to gauge the community’s feelings on the matter. Speaking to a pipeliner, who assured me pipelines are absolutely safe, but he wasn’t sure of the shipping. A mariner was adamant shipping was safe, but was uncertain of the pipeline. I found this indicative of this entire community. We fear what we don’t understand.

It’s utter nonsense to require the public to make an informed decision regarding the JRP’s recommendations, when very few if any will ever read the document. It’s 900 pages of lawyer speak. So really, we are left with an emotional choice. Emotional choice is simply that, and devoid of understanding of the complexities, and potential value of this project.

Given our limitations, perhaps we should approach this vote with a certain amount of pragmatism.

Ask ourselves, ‘do the benefits outweigh the risks?

Ten years ago, I would have said no.

Today however, my own research, my belief in the company’s commitment to safety, and advances in technology, have created a comfort level that allows me to fully support the project.

Your choice is your own.


James Richards


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