Repost from SeattlePI
[Editor: Note that at the time of this posting, the link to SeattlePI is ok, but it carries an advertisement at top promoting Energy East Pipeline – a project to bring nasty Western Canadian tar sands oil to Eastern Canada. Supposedly all the “facts” and “benefits” of this tar sands disaster. Ironic, eh? – RS]
Oil, gas, coal industries want Washington, British Columbia as permanent home portsBy Joel Connelly, June 4, 2015
Shell’s exploration fleet is due to depart Seattle soon for the Arctic, but other energy industries are planning their own home ports up and down the West Coast, from the Columbia River to the Salish Sea to British Columbia’s North Coast.
The public’s attention will wane at its peril. Public understanding of the gains and pains of Big Oil and Big Coal’s plans for the Northwest is strongly advised.
The waters of Puget Sound, Georgia Strait and the Inland Passage are fast becoming a chosen path for shipment of coal, liquid natural gas, and — if many in Congress have their way — oil to China and other fast-developing Asian markets.
The drilling rigs Polar Pioneer and Noble Discoverer will almost certainly be in Alaskan waters when legal and administrative challenges to Shell Oil’s Seattle home port are heard in July.
In recent months, the resistance to Shell has overshadowed the proposed oil train terminus in Vancouver, Washington, the coal port and refinery proposed for Longview, the growing number of oil trains through Seattle, and the enormous pipeline terminus and oil export port proposed just east of Vancouver, B.C.
The invasion of the energy industry has drawn sporadic public attention. A crowd of 2,300 showed up for a Seattle meeting to scope out the Army Corps of Engineers’ environmental studies of the proposed Gateway Pacific coal export terminal north of Bellingham.
Ignored south of the border, more than 100 demonstrators were arrested last November at a park on Burnaby Mountain, just east of Vancouver, B.C. They were protesting sample drilling by a Houston company that wants to make Burnaby the terminus of a pipeline carrying Alberta tar sands oil.
The proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline, beginning in Edmonton, has at least 890,000 barrels a day a higher capacity than the vastly more-publicized Keystone XL project in the Midwest.
The oil would not stay in British Columbia. Thirty-four tankers a month would carry it through the international waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Haro Strait, the boundary between the U.S. San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf Islands.
Governments, on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, do not inspire public confidence.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, in recent safety rules on oil trains, proposes to allow three years — THREE YEARS — for explosion-prone, 1964-vintage DOT-111 tanker cars to finally be off America’s railroad tracks.
The USDOT is “laser focused” on safety, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. Still, the DOT has sided with the railroads and rebuffed requests by first responders for full information on cargoes being carried from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota through Puget Sound cities.
“Because of the detailed and sensitive nature of the safety and security analysis information, the federal government requires that the information be treated as Sensitive Security information that cannot be publicly disclosed,” Foxx told Cantwell.
Nor do the USDOT rules require removal of potentially explosive gases from tank cars carrying shipments of oil.
The situation is even more alarming in Canada. The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to turn the Great White North into a global petro power. And that means bringing Alberta oil to tidewater for export.
The National Energy Board of Canada (NEB) has approved (with conditions) an oil pipeline that would carry Alberta tar sands crude to an oil port at Kitimat, at the head of the long, treacherous Douglas Channel in northern British Columbia.
The NEB is now considering the 890,000 barrels-a-day, $5.4 billion (Canadian) Kinder Morgan pipeline. Vancouver and Burnaby are trying to get full information on environmental consequences. A major spill in Burrard Inlet could cost Vancouver as much as $1.25 billion. However, the British Columbia government has barely intervened with the project.
While watching hockey’s Stanley Cup playoffs, American viewers have been exposed to pro-pipeline propaganda on Canadian TV. The government promises “world class” marine safety. A stud-muffin Kinder Morgan employee talks about how much he loves the out-of-doors.
Don’t believe Canada’s claims for a New York minute.
While pushing an oil port, the Harper government has shut down the Kitsilano Coast Guard Base in Vancouver and is in the process of closing the Coal Harbor marine traffic and communications center. The oil would be routed to Burnaby, while Coast Guard operations are being moved to Victoria.
The British Columbia government has its sights set on something else — development of huge liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals on the coast. The gas would be exported to China.
An Indian band near Prince Rupert recently rejected a $1 billion, long-term deal to roll over and allow an LNG terminal.
The B.C. government is more pliable. It is pledging to freeze in place environmental and safety regulations for the duration of the LNG terminals’ operation. It’s forging ahead with the big, nature-wrecking Site C hydro project on the Peace River to supply electricity to the LNG industry.
So far, the most sustained resistance has come from Native American and Aboriginal First Nations tribes.
The tribes have managed to unite across the border, understanding that disruption, oil spills and damage to natural resources will be felt on BOTH sides of the border.
The Swinomish tribe is challenging Anacortes-bound oil trains, which cross its reservation, in federal courts. The Lummi Indians have steadfastly resisted Gateway Pacific.
Up north, the Tsleil Wauth First Nation, with land on Burrard Inlet, fielded a study by experts. It found there is a 37 percent chance of a spill of 100,000 barrels or more, which could kill between 100,000 and 500,000 sea and shorebirds.
The basic point for residents of this much-envied corner of the Earth:
Full, accurate information on the real and possible consequences of major energy projects is not going to come from government.
Given the scope of the projects, two words of wisdom come immediately to mind: Question authority.