Harper's Northern Gateway Comments About Science Yesterday Refer to the 'Dismal Science' of Economics

When Harper was cornered by reporters yesterday and forced to comment on Northern Gateway pipeline debate he said, "I've been very clear that decisions on these kinds of projects are made through an independent evaluation conducted by scientists into the economic costs and risks that are associated with the project, and that's how we conduct our business." What science is he talking about? The 'dismal science' of economics obviously.

In response Josh Paterson, staff counsel with West Coast Environ-mental Law, said, "Softening in the government's message this past week may be the result of the tough reality that people in B.C. don't want oil tankers and pipelines, but this government changed laws and changed the rules to make Enbridge easier to approve. Their actions speak much louder than a day or two of messaging." Their recent actions, including the gutting of environmental regulations in Bill C-38 and stripping the review panel of their powers, show very clearly that money talks in Harperville.

This past week real science has produced two more excellent reports on the statistical probability of an oil spill disaster if the Northern Gateway Project is allowed to proceed. The first, by Professor Sean Kheraj of Toronto's York University titled, 'Piping Crude? There Is No Leak Proof System', is a study of Alberta's atrocious record of pipeline leaks saying in part, "In 2010 alone there were 20 crude oil pipeline failures just in Alberta. That means a crude oil spill every 18 days." and concludes with a strong warning to British Columbia."The bottom line for British Columbians is that pipelines are risky -- you can't produce a safe system, you can only produce a less risky system. There is no leak proof system."

The second titled, 'Best-laid plans for oil spill response can't eliminate human error', shows how many major oil disasters are caused by human error, for instance the Exxon-Valdez captain was drunk, the BC Ferry that sunk on the same route the tankers would take hit a rock while the couple on the bridge was either having a fight or 'making up' after one, the Kalamazoo spill was made worse by under-trained computer jockies, etc. It concludes by saying that spills are inevitable and their clean-up costs depend on the type of weather conditions, ease of access, and type of crude [all of which are the worst possible in this case] Then points out that Canada's liability rules means a spiller may not have to spend more than $1.3 billion cleaning up a marine disaster. The rest of the costs could fall to the province and Ottawa. That means you.

Harper's disingenuous answers are designed to help him not lose the next election while still keeping his tar sands benefactors rolling in dirty money. What BC has to lose doesn't enter into the dismal science's models because it's priceless and can never be replaced.

'Shallow Waters' by 10 year old Ta'Kaiya Blaney from the Sliammon First Nation near Powell River