Image: Industrial Rape of Flora Bank by Pacific Northwest LNG (image provided by PNW LNG)
Sometimes I can go weeks without remembering my past life of over 20 years in Prince Rupert. This week was not one of those weeks.
It all started on September 27, with the announcement that “Today, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Jim Carr, and the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, announced the Federal Cabinet’s decision to approve the $11 billion Pacific NorthWest LNG Project after a rigorous federal environmental assessment.” Damn! I’d hoped for better from our new Liberal government, but I’m not really surprised. All politicians seem the same these days, and not a good apple amongst the lot. It seems that I have both the blessing and the curse of being able to see future directions very clearly (call it my analytical scientific mind or maybe it’s just some weird talent that I have), so I could see this coming. So many “irreversible” decisions had been made by people in power (and you know how hard it is for politicians and business people to back down from or admit to bad decisions), that Prince Rupert was pretty much on a set course to industrial rape. Furthermore, it seemed that the majority of the community welcomed this rape. The remainder, opposed to the sell out of our resources and the destruction of our environment, were too fractured and incohesive to put up much of a fight. I was one of those, and I could see the writing on the wall. Rather than sell out my ethics, ideals and beliefs, I left.
Worse, it seems that the government is fully aware of the damage this project will cause. Apparently, quick money, quick jobs, and the appeasing of international partners is more important than the long term health of our country and our people. From the official decision statement: “I [The Honourable Catherine McKenna] have determined that the Designated Project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects … I referred to the Governor in Council the matter of whether those significant adverse environmental effects were justified in the circumstances … the Governor in Council decided that the significant adverse environmental effects that the Designated Project is likely to cause are justified in the circumstances.” The project is “subject to over 190 legally binding conditions, determined through extensive scientific study“. Extensive scientific study, my butt (and you can read more about my opinions on this matter here and here). Nor are “legally binding conditions” likely to be the salvation for the juvenile salmon that depend on this critical habitat. A 2005 DFO compliance audit showed that of 52 industrial habitat compensation projects in Canada, 58 per cent failed to improve fish numbers. And as a final point, all of these conditions never take into account human error. The Exxon Valdez was human error. A single tug or tanker accident that causes a significant release of fuel into the environment at just the wrong time of the year could spell disaster for Flora Bank. The big boys claim that the risks for human error have been mitigated or are too low to be of concern, and yet real experience shows us that they happen again and again. I’m afraid I’m just not a believer of this industrial crap! I can only hope that global economics will make PNW LNG unfeasible in the long run (as seems might be the case).
So … after the release of this announcement, two friends, with whom I have not communicated in over a year, emailed me expressing their congratulations for the success we have achieved so far with our “permaculture homestead” project. Both expressed disappointment about the direction that events in Prince Rupert have taken. I can only say that I am so glad we now live on 50 acres of paradise in Port Neville Inlet.