Emperor well-dressed

He was personable, entertaining, straightforward and fully-versed in the figures at hand.

He was personable, entertaining, straightforward and fully-versed in the figures at hand.

BC Finance Minister Michael de Jong has been spreading his message, which he brought to Salmon Arm last month, telling business groups about the provincial budget, explaining that B.C. will prosper with LNG – liquified natural gas – but only if the province acts quickly.

I would love to relax in the knowledge that he is right – and the province and all its natural bounty and all of its treasured citizens will indeed flourish under the plan. But, in order to agree with him and his colleagues, it’s necessary to ignore evidence to the contrary. The emperor is, apparently, fully clothed.

In other parts of the country, valid concerns are being raised. The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities just passed a resolution supporting a provincewide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. The coalition of 54 municipalities wants a better look into the impacts of fracking, particularly with regard to the disposal of its toxic wastewater as well as impacts on fresh water. Newfoundland and Labrador did the same last month. These are in addition to conflicts in New Brunswick, where First Nations’ concerns about fracking’s effects on water have been ignored.

In B.C., the Site C Dam, repeatedly rejected because it will flood more than 5,000 hectares and 100 kilometres of the Peace River Valley that include wildlife corridors and habitat as well as agricultural land, is being floated again and will apparently provide the energy needed for B.C. to frack away.

Burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change, and fracking, in particular, uses huge amounts of water and fossil fuels to create – more fossil fuels. Why aren’t we pushing hard for more widespread use of proven technologies like geo-thermal, solar power and wind power? Jobs and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it will cost billions in the future to repair environmental damage done today – if it’s reparable.

Last week we also saw B.C. government plans leaked about diluting the power of the Agricultural Land Commission and placing it partially under the domain of the Oil and Gas Commission. It doesn’t take the psychic powers of Madame Rue to predict how agricultural land would fair in a duel with oil and gas pipelines.

Hand in hand with that goes the surprise announcement last week from B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford that they have reached an agreement on the movement of energy resources – ie: pipelines.

Amidst these emperor-like moves comes the view from many provincial and federal politicians that citizens who raise environmental concerns are somehow anti-progress and anti-business.

I would love to buy into the notion of oil and gas as saviour. Unfortunately, though, it’s one where damage to the air, water and, indeed, the planet that sustains us, will escalate. It should be difficult, I think, particularly for anyone with children or grandchildren, to accept. Because, like older citizens, those young people will require food to eat, air to breathe and water to drink.