There’s much to consider before demanding ban on oilsands development

Michael Smith of Ladysmith writes that oilsands protestors have a lot to consider before demanding an outright ban.

Editor:

Re: oilsands protests

Protesters have a lot to consider before demanding an outright ban on oilsands development.

They should not lump together the risk to the coast from tanker traffic and pipeline transport.

Pipelines are inherently a much safer method of transporting oil, and a spill from a pipeline is easier to deal with.

It is easier to prevent, contain and clean up pipeline spills as opposed to ocean spills, and it is possible to limit the amount spilled from a pipeline to a very small amount of liquid.

There is wealth and prosperity to be derived for all Canadians from the development and marketing of the oilsands. The question is how to do it safely and protect the environment in the process.

I don’t think there is much doubt that the pipeline part can be managed safely.

The tanker transport process is a different matter and needs vastly more scrutiny and accountability.

Our coastlines must be protected to the best of our ability.

It’s all very well to rush to the Legislature or local MLA’s office to “Defend Our Coast” from tankers and pipelines, but have you thought of the alternative?

If the consensus is that we can’t manage the threats imposed by pipelines and tankers, then are we prepared for the obvious consequence of much higher gasoline and heating costs?

How many oilsands protesters drove to the protests here and in Duncan and Victoria?

Banning pipelines and tankers will directly cause higher gasoline and heating costs. (How about $2-$4 per liter as in Europe?)

Think about that next time you fill up on your way to the protest.

Rather than calling for a complete ban on marketing oilsands petroleum, we should be insisting on the very highest standards of safety to protect our environment.

We should also think about processing the raw crude here and shipping the refined product, which would bring a higher price and be somewhat less intimidating to the environment.

A refined product would be so attractive to the American market that much less would have to go over water.

If we aren’t prepared for one of the above options, we better be prepared to do a lot more walking and a lot less driving.

Michael Smith

Ladysmith