Thursday, July 10, 2008

Offshore oil development would make a hypocritical statement on Carbon reduction

With the provincial government still seemingly trying to have a moratorium on oil and gas exploration on the West coast lifted, the NDP is wondering how that factors into their new found enthusiasm for a Climate Action plan.

Gary Coons, MLA for the North Coast outlined some of the opposition’s thoughts on the Governments continuing chase and provide subsidies to what he calls “dirty big oil and gas companies that drill for oil and gas”. That, while at the same time the government is busy urging British Columbians to do their part to reduce their carbon footprint in the province.

The Daily News featured his concerns in Tuesday’s paper.

Oil and gas mixed message alarms MLA
Encouraging residents to use less fuel while B. C. seeks more is criticized
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Page one

Continuing the push to develop offshore oil and gas while instituting a new gas tax to reduce carbon emissions is hypocritical, says North Coast MLA Gary Coons.

Last week, Colin Hansen, Minister of Finance, told a radio show that the province is still pushing the federal government to lift the offshore oil and gas moratorium that prevents exploration on the West Coast.

"What we're saying through our Climate Action Plan is let's make better use of the oil that we're consuming, let's minimize our personal consumption of fossil fuels. At the same time we have to ensure that we explore and develop," Hansen was reported as saying. He went on to say that allowing exploration on the east coast while restricting it on the West Coast was unfair.

However, North Coast MLA Gary Coons, whose riding encompasses most of the area where exploration would take place, disagreed.

"Campbell is taxing ordinary British Columbians at the pump and to heat their homes while offering rich subsidies to the dirty big oil and gas companies that drill for oil and gas," said Coons. "He's a hypocrite; the best way to keep carbon out of the atmosphere is to protect our fragile coasts and ecosystems, and leave the gas in the ground."

He noted the conditions on the West Coast are very different from those on the East Coast. Hibernia is two-hundred kilometres offshore and it isn't sitting on an active fault line; drilling in the Queen Charlotte basin could occur twenty kilometres from shore in an earthquake zone.

"I know that people on the North Coast have spoken out very clearly against oil and gas extraction in Hecate Straight," said Coons.

While the environmental impacts of oil and gas exploration would be significant, Coons is also concerned about the effects that offshore oil and gas would have on local industries like tourism and commercial fishing.

"I doubt that people would travel here from all over the world to marvel at oil spills, extinct runs of fish, and drilling platforms," said Coons. "It's another corporate scam: big industry and people from out of town make all the money, and locals get stuck with the mess. No thanks."

Less than four years ago, the federal government completed a three-pronged review on the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Queen Charlotte Basin. The public review, which was chaired by a three-member panel including former Prince Rupert Mayor Don Scott, noted 75 per cent of those who participated in the process opposed lifting the moratorium.

Further to this, the First Nations Review Panel concluded most Coastal First Nations felt there was a large void of information that needed to be fulfilled before they could even put the question of lifting the moratorium before their leadership.

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