Stop bleeding oil money to United States

Taxes on oil pipelines, as opposed to less environmentally-risky natural gas lines, is a good place to start in offsetting the risk.

The latest newsletter from MP Alex Atamanenko urges his constituents to oppose what he views as the potential for environmental and economic Armageddon if Enbridge is allowed to build its proposed oil pipeline across northern British Columbia.

He warns about the shipment of “raw bitumen” in “supertankers as big as the Eiffel Tower,”  “inevitable” spills that, even if “modest” would “decimate this fragile coastline for decades,” and the too-great risk of pushing a pipeline through “mountainous avalanche territory.” All of this puts at risk “tens of thousands of jobs” in tourism and fishing.

Pheew! It’s hard to believe that the top oil nations worldwide, including Canada, produce more than 50 million barrels of the black gooey stuff daily that has to be pumped, trucked, tankered and otherwise moved to markets, and yet we have not thus far all perished.

Obviously, British Columbia is more rugged than the Arabian Peninsula and the weather in the Pacific Northwest is a bit testier than that of the Straight of Hormuz.

But ,then again, region of the oil sheiks does have its 12,000 foot peaks and occasional gales, while British Columbia doesn’t have terrorists – unless you count the radical vegans who occasionally break into labs and free the rats and rabbits.

There is a risk to building pipelines across British Columbia and a way to compensate the province for this needs to be found within the Canadian constitutional framework that protects the inter-provincial transport of goods.

Provincial and local property taxes on oil pipelines, as opposed to less environmentally-risky natural gas lines, is a good place to start.

But, surely the risk can be managed with the double-hulled tankers that were not much in use when the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska, extra-heavily re-inforced pipe in riparian and slide areas, and fibre-optic monitoring systems that can quickly identify leaks and shut off the flow of oil.

These are among the many issues that have to be looked at during regulatory hearings before a decision is made on whether the pipeline should be built.

The same goes for Kinder Morgan’s desire to twin its Trans Mountain pipeline and significantly expand oil shipments from the Port of Vancouver.

Atamanenko worries that “tens of thousands” of jobs are imperiled by Enbridge’s project. Unemployed Northern British Columbians might like to know where these opportunities are before they have to depart for the very apparent openings in the Alberta oil patch.

Not having an export outlet other than into the glutted U.S. Midwest is costing Canadian oil producers up to $25 a barrel these days. That is a lot of money that could be used for exploration and development in Canada, and to create the related high-paying jobs in the oil fields and the office towers and factories of Calgary and other Canadian cities.

If British Columbia isn’t the best route, then let’s find a way to ship the oil east and stop hemorrhaging money to the United States.

•••

Trying to watch the Olympics as a Shaw Cable subscriber has been most annoying as the company dos not carry a high definition CTV channel in the West Kootenay.

Shaw shuffled its HD channels this week and in the process added duplicates of some of the endless array of sports channels it offers in this format.

These are the networks that provide tiresome reruns of every home run hit the night before and snooze fests involving people who can barely talk let alone read dissecting the latest trade or player signing.

But there is still no HD listing for CTV, which is the Canadian broadcaster for the 2012 Summer Olympics and one of this country’s two premiere networks (a relative concept when considering commercial television).

There is Olympic coverage in HD on some of those sports networks, but the coverage is spotty. As I write, the Canadian women’s soccer team is playing France for the bronze medal and it is not available in high def.

An email to Shaw’s customer service desk elicited the standard “we’re working on it,” with an addendum that amounted to: oh, by the way, you guys in the sticks are more costly to service, so what can you expect.

My expectation is that, two years after BCTV launched in high definition, it is time Shaw paused its standard activity – scheming about how it can raise our bills yet again – and added this channel to its basic HD listings.

Raymond Masleck is a retired Trail Times reporter.

 

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