This week we asked our panel of undecided voters to discuss how the province should approach transporting oil from Alberta to the Pacific coast. Here are some edited excerpts from the online conversation.
It is quite alluring to be able to dip into the lucrative oil money that Alberta rolls in and take some pressure off of the provincial tax burden for all of us. … [But] on more lucid days I ponder the huge environmental impact that any spills or leaks would entail. No matter what the companies tell us, the risk is not deniable, accidents, while not unavoidable, are omnipresent. – Scott Guthrie, Victoria
By allowing pipelines to cross the province we can actually influence their design and possibly make the transport of oil safer. All we accomplish by denying pipelines is to make the pipelines and transport of oil less safe as they aren’t taking the most direct route (more kilometres of pipe, more chance of problems), and passing on the problem to others who might not have as stringent safety requirements. – Scott Montague, North Vancouver
Short answer: Alberta gets the gravy and B.C. gets the grief. The benefits for British Columbians are a few crumbs from Alberta’s table. Yes, there are many construction jobs, but they are temporary. … The liability of the oil pipeline operating company up to its exhaustion point is covered by Kinder Morgan’s or Enbridge’s insurance. Well, guess what: That insurance pool comes out of what we all pay for home insurance, fire insurance, life insurance, etc. When the big insurance companies cover mega-projects, we are all underwriting the risk. – Paul McGown, Burnaby
In economics, there is something called Hartwick’s rule. It states that a natural-resource economy should use the profit from extracting and selling natural resources and invest in capital. B.C. should allow the pipeline under the condition that we get some sort of royalty or tax revenue from it. We use those revenues and invest in another sector, such as manufacturing, scientific research or renewable energy. – Kevin Fung, Vancouver
Why won’t supporting alternative energy, if promoted to the same level as oil, be economically good for the province? None of the parties have said much or anything about alternative energy except the electric car stations in Vancouver. – Larry Law, Powell River
B.C. needs to diversify – but not by diversifying into yet another unstable natural resource. … We are absolutely at the mercy of global economic conditions, which cause wide fluctuations in price. Another thing no one has mentioned is what an accident will do to one of the only other industries thriving in this province: tourism. An oil spill in the Georgia Strait would almost certainly slow tourism for a couple of years. To me, it seems B.C. is bearing most of the risk for the pipelines and tankers while most of the benefit goes elsewhere, and a better use of the money for B.C. would be to support other industries that are not commodity-based. – Lisa Fisher, Vancouver