A side of reward to go with that risk?

The Northern Gateway hearings have been underway in Prince George for the past week.

The Northern Gateway hearings have been underway in Prince George for the past week.  Many towns and First Nations in northwest B.C. have already taken positions for or against the proposed pipeline (mostly against).

Notable exceptions are Burns Lake and Kitimat.  Both towns are waiting until all the facts are in before making a decision.  It’s true, we need facts to make an informed decision, but what facts remain to be uncovered?  What information, exactly, is not available that could sway a person’s decision one way or the other?

The hearings themselves have become bogged down in their own remarkable blandness.  Every day’s hearings mimic what we heard in Burns Lake when Enbridge visited last week.  Whenever a perceived shortcoming or concern is raised about the pipeline, the response from Enbridge is something like, we’d need the kind of engineering that comes after approval to answer a question like that.

Enbridge researchers are saying that all the facts are in.  In their mind, they have given what can reasonably be expected and they do have a point.  Research is expensive, never complete and always open to new facts and technology.

It is unreasonable to expect Enbridge to have at hand every detail of every contingency that could arise over every metre of the pipeline from source to terminus.

No decision works that way.  Even systems that work very well aren’t scrutinized like that and don’t operate like that.  If we waited for all the information to be in before we did anything, we’d never actually get started on anything.  It’s disingenuous to expect absolute completeness from Enbridge.

For communities that have already taken a stand on the pipeline it seems that risk of ecological harm, any ecological harm, is not worth the potential benefit of the pipeline.  The reasoning is that no risk is acceptable, and seeing that risk can’t be engineered out of the system completely, then they give an emphatic ‘no’ to the pipeline.

This isn’t risk mitigation, it’s risk rejection.

Premier Christy Clark has been providing a sideshow suggesting that the province wants to drop a bag of money on one side of the scale and see if it outweighs the risks involved.  If B.C. gets its ‘fair share’ of Alberta’s oil revenue, then maybe we’ll go along.

There’s nothing about the opposition in Northern B.C. to the pipeline that suggests that a bigger piece of the pie is what protesters are after.

Her position will galvanize those already opposed, but her posturing is probably irrelevant anyway as her conditions for provincial approval include community and First Nations support and there doesn’t seem to be much of that going around.

For many people, the hearings were over before they started.  It never was a question of whether or not Enbridge had a good plan in place for moving bitumen and distillate to Kitimat.  It has always been a question of whether risk equalled reward and many individuals and communities were clear from the start that no level of risk is acceptable.

If the communities of Burns Lake and Kitimat are waiting for the conclusion of the hearing before making a decision, they still face a final unenviable decision.

Does that mean that they are prepared to go along with the recommendations of the panel even if it contradicts the will of the people?

 

Just Posted

Convicted animal abuser to return to B.C. court May 21

Catherine Jessica Adams is facing a breach of probation charge

Northwest Fire Centre open burn ban lifted

Recent rain, cooler temperatures have lowered the region’s fire risk

Telkwa pot plant application passes review

Cannabis company claims new Health Canada regulations are working in its favour

Cullen demands action on Ecstall River

Failing to penalize parties involved undermines all salmon conservation efforts, MP says

Governments, industry bid on optimism amid timber review

The possibility of reduced forestry activity in the near future is sinking… Continue reading

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

B.C. residential school survivor’s indomitable human spirit centre of school play

Terrace theatre company plans to revive Nisga’a leader Larry Guno’s Bunk #7 next year

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Most Read