Campbell’s contradictions on fossil fuel development

FOCUS Magazine
January 2009

by Chris Genovali

In Katherine Gordon’s “The Inconvenient Truth About Her Axe and His Tax,” Premier Gordon Campbell’s facile explanation regarding the stark disconnect between his implementation of the carbon tax and his continued support for intensive fossil fuel development escapes indepth scrutiny.

In addition to supporting offshore oil drilling, the Campbell government is pushing for the revocation of the 35-year oil-tanker moratorium on the BC coast and the construction of a twin pipeline into Kitimat- both in order to facilitate the export of “the world’s dirtiest oil” from northern Alberta’s tar sands to feed hydrocarbon-hungry markets in the US and Asia. BC’s marine mammal and marine bird populations, as well as wild-salmon stocks, will be made vulnerable as a result.

The premier momentarily veered off his climate action message when he publicly stated this past year that the proposed “energy corridor” from the Alberta tar sands to the BC coast was “a great idea.”

The linchpin in Campbell’s energy corridor concept is oil giant Enbridge Inc, which has revived its plans to build a twin pipeline from northern Alberta to the BC coast. Condensate tankers and oil tankers at least as
big as the Exxon Valdez would ply BC’s rocky northern coastline on virtually a daily basis, entering Douglas Channel within eyesight of where the 120-metre BC Ferry Queen of the North struck Gil Island and sank in 2006. The pipeline would ship over 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day, and twice a week 350-metre-long super tankers would pass by the very spot where the Queen of the North sank.

Campbell, the putative climate change activist, is apparently unconcerned about significantly contributing to the already dangerous level of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere once all those foreign consumer countries of Canadian oil burn up the product. NASA climate scientist James Hansen states that we have passed what he considers the threshold for “maximum permissible concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

It is within this context that the Campbell government continues to aggressively pursue fossil fuel development while simultaneously attempting to convince the public that the province is doing something substantive to address climate change.

Chris Genovali
Executive Director, Raincoast Conservation

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