Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice wants to turn our beautiful, abundantly productive, west coast from this:
... into this:
... or this:
Globe and Mail, Friday May 6 2010 -- Environment Minister Jim Prentice says there is no need for a moratorium on future offshore drilling in Canadian waters while the world tries to figure out what went wrong in the Gulf of Mexico.
The spill of thousands of barrels of crude a day into the Gulf, and the environmental devastation that now threatens the Louisiana shore, have prompted other governments to put future drilling on hold, even if it could mean higher energy prices.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has issued a moratorium on future oil drilling permits off the state's coast until it can be determined that a disaster similar to the one in the Gulf of Mexico can be avoided. [And U.S. President Barak Obama has put new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico on hold as well.]
But Mr. Prentice sees no need to follow the example set south of the border.
"I don't think the answer is a moratorium,"the minister told reporters on Thursday. "We are all appalled by what we are seeing in the Gulf of Mexico. Everyone is worried about that. Here in Canada, we've not had those kinds of incidents and that's because of the strong regulatory environment that we have had with the National Energy Board (NEB)."
Canada hasn't had the sorts of incidents the U.S. and other nations has had only because our offshore oil industry is tiny by comparison. When you increase the rig count and number of areas being exploited, and increase the outbound tanker traffic, the probability of a serious accident increases as well.
The U.S. takes its coastal environment very seriously. If they can't get it right, 100% of the time, then how are we - relatively green to offshore oil and gas production - to be expected to get it right, 100% of the time?
Minister Prentice ought to know that Canada has quite enough environmental disasters on land, and our track record of managing our oceans is far from laudable. We should not sell out our coast for a fistful of dollars.