Friday, July 18, 2008

Not so fast on that offshore option…

"They shouldn't be talking about things that we own, and that are in our backyard, in terms of recommendations," -- Arnie Bellis, Vice President of the Council of the Haida Nation, reacting to suggestions that it may be time to develop oil and gas reserves in the Queen Charlotte Basin.

While the price of oil continues to rise and supplies seem to be running low as the ever increasing demand goes upwards, the prospect of an oil rush on the North coast has once again popped up to the surface.

With the Geological Survey of Canada estimating that there could be close to 10 billion barrels of oil and 26 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Queen Charlotte Basin off the B.C. north coast, the covetous eyes of the oil industry are starting to shift to this direction once again.
Especially when you consider the gold rush of money that the provincial government is collecting on oil and gas rights in the Northeast portion of the province, with such a vast reserve untapped under the Charlottes basin, dollar signs seem to be dancing in almost everyone's eyes these days.
A recent article in the Vancouver Sun featured the prospects of drilling once again becoming a topical concern, as did an article yesterday in the Northern View which provided some feedback from locals not particularly impressed with the plan.

The only problem for those pushing the idea of development is that perhaps someone might wish to check with the Haida, who suggest that the prospect of any kind of drilling activity off of the Charlottes/Haida Gwaii just isn’t on and isn’t even up for discussion.
The Daily News featured the thoughts of Arnie Bellis, Vice President of the Council of the Haida Nation, who makes it pretty clear that all this talk of oil and gas development is something that he and his people aren’t particularly inclined to welcome any time soon. Throwing a little cold water for that red hot ambition that seems to be starting to stoke up again.

Haida oil is not on the table: Islands' leader
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Pages one and two

With the doubling of oil prices in the last year, the industry is anxious to find places for new oil and gas developments.

According to a leader from the Haida Nation, the Queen Charlotte Islands will not be one of those places.

Earlier this week Arnie Bellis, Vice President of the Council of the Haida Nation made it clear that the people of Haida Gwaii see the financial gains from oil and gas developments in their territory as unsubstantial when it comes at the cost that will come from degrading the North Coast environment.

One of three potential offshore drilling sites on British Columbia's coast, the Queen Charlotte Basin is a seismically active region with extreme weather for much of the year, as well as a vital coastal ecosystem that supports a culturally, economically, and environmentally important fishery and tourism industries.

According to government studies, B.C.'s offshore oil and gas resources have a total estimated value of approximately $250 billion when measured in current prices.

But Bellis said that government and industry speculation and conversation about developing those resources is something that shouldn't even be happening.

"They shouldn't be talking about things that we own, and that are in our backyard, in terms of recommendations," said Bellis in an interview with the Vancouver Sun.

"That's almost insulting, you know. I'd like to caution people on not getting rushed into these things."

Residents of Prince Rupert and the surrounding area have been extremely vocal in their opposition to coalbed methane developments in the Sacred Headwaters of the Skeena River.

Nearly 50 people protested outside Prince Rupert City Hall when Premier Gordon Campbell last visited highlighting their opposition to the proposed developments, and in late May some 400 people packed Gitanmaax Hall in Hazelton to let Shell Canada know how they felt about their project.

"Our coast is not for sale. Not for money, not for oil," said North Coast MLA Gary Coons.

"Vice President Arnie Bellis spoke not just for the Haida Nation, but for all of us on the North Coast when he rejected drilling in the Queen Charlotte Basin. We don't want it. We don't need it."
Coons is dumbfounded that the government gave $327 million in subsidies and tax breaks to the oil and gas industry in the last budget, even though most companies have been raking in record profits for several years. More recently, Minister of Finance Colin Hansen made it clear the government is lobbying the federal government to open up oil and gas development on British Columbia's shores, something Coons and Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen have both been fighting for months.

"The hypocrisy of the Campbell government is appalling," said Coons.
"With one hand they slap a gas tax on ordinary British Columbians, with the other they beckon to the oil and gas industry.

"The oil barons are saying we could use the money from oil and gas to pay for schools, and healthcare. The truth is, if we stopped sending our money to oil barons and industry we could easily pay for quality healthcare and education without wrecking our environment. We don't care who says it is safe, we don't care who says that the risk is worth the money."

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