The Wizards of Pipelines and Fracking

December Op-ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News

What position must we take when our politicians continue to be environmental laggards? This past week Prime Minister Trudeau actually had the gall to say—indignantly—that he wouldn’t have approved the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline if he thought doing so would be harmful to BC’s coast. Could someone please inform our PM that preventing human error and controlling storms at sea are not among his impressive abilities?

His arrogance reminded me of the doctor I had in my early 20s. I’d gone to see him about getting birth control. I sat facing him and his big, oak desk and said that I had some concern about the long-term effect on my health if I went on the pill. The good doctor snubbed his cigarette into a plate-sized ashtray and bellowed, “Do you think I would give it to you if I thought it would harm you?”

The thing is, wherever there’s an Oz, when you pull back the curtain you’ll find not a wizard but just another fallible human being whose power is temporary— temporary because it’s been loaned to him by some other fallible people. We have to keep reminding ourselves of this truth.

Right now the provincial Liberals are using taxpayer money to sell LNG to us through a TV ad campaign, asserting that fracking is “clean” when exactly the opposite is true. Fracking forces toxic chemicals down deep into the earth so that gas is released to the surface; fracking causes earthquakes and the chemicals are left in the earth to gradually poison the water table; fracking has been called dirtier than coal. That same TV ad also informs us that $20 billion has already been spent. All that money for a few measly jobs tied to unstable, unpredictable export markets! Giving $1 billion to 20 communities would have been a sounder, long-term investment.

Clearly our politicians are hobbled—by a failure of courage, by an entrenched minority of wizards who manipulate them into becoming well-behaved minions. Our politicians put the desired spin on dirty energy projects by constantly uttering scare words like “job creation” and “food on the table”. Meanwhile, in other countries, they’re making significant investment in renewable energies and their economies are doing just fine.

At the Standing Rock camp in North Dakota which opposes a crude oil pipeline from crossing their water source and desecrating a sacred burial ground, people are calling themselves ‘Water Protectors’. They’re not calling themselves ‘protestors’. Protestors, as we all know from past events, come together to make a show of their concern, and then they go away.

But people who protect the land, air and water are people who’ve realized that being protestors doesn’t cut it anymore—the greedy wizards won’t change their methods and madness, no matter how many millions protest. The water protectors here in BC are going to come together from all over the continent and they’ll stay put for as long as it takes—even if it means having to put their bodies on the line.

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