In my recent post I pointed out the flaw in Premier Christy Clark's logic regarding possible environmental damage from oil pipelines crossing BC and the export of oil by tanker.
Clark aimed and fired, but shot at the wrong target.
The issue is the size of potential environmental and economic damages caused by the export of oil over BC and from BC in tankers, and who should pay what to remedy those damages, and when such payments should be made.
The Globe & Mail in today's editorial gets this part right, when it essentially supported my argument:
If Ms. Clark's worries were genuine, but not so great as to be prohibitive should the project pass environmental reviews, a more defensible condition would be insisting upon some form of insurance to help cover costs in the case of an accident. That could involve an iron-clad commitment from the federal and Alberta governments (along with Enbridge, the company that w ould build the pipeline) to ensure that BC did not absorb any cleanup costs, or even the establishment of a fund to cover those costs in the event they're ever incurred.
And it gets this part wrong, because it not just about pipelines – it is about the whole process, including the use of tankers:
Despite the concerns that have emerged following several spills from Alberta's aging pipelines, the risk of a new pipeline suffering a major accident is relatively low.
The problem is that the damages that could be caused to the environment and to the livelihood of Canadians from a massive oil spill arising from a tanker rupture are far higher than those that would result from a pipeline spill, and those higher risks are part and parcel of the whole process of digging up the oil, moving it through the pipelines, and then shipping it by tanker.
That whole problem has to be satisfactorily addressed before any BC government should consider permitting an oil pipeline to be built across the province.