A simple solution to the Northern Gateway pipeline battle is for B.C. to receive half the revenues and apply them to risk-aversion measures.
In the February 14 edition of the Vancouver Sun, on the op-ed page, was probably the best analysis of B.C.’s currently chaotic political scene as I’ve ever seen. It also contains an extremely intelligent solution to a thorny problem in B.C.
The analysis comes from the inimitable Robert (Bob) Plecas, who was a deputy minister in several ministries for not only Social Credit but also NDP governments.
No easy feat, that. And, in my books, the signal of a top political mind.
Plecas cuts through all the political hoo-ha happening right now and points out that, as of today, the NDP is a sure thing to win the next election, even though it's only slightly a bit above its historical average of about 38 per cent of the polls. The centre-right coalition is splintered, he says.
Plecas has several suggestions on how Liberal leader Christy Clark can remedy this problem. But the one that fascinated me was his solution to cut the Gordian Knot that’s the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.
You know about it: oil-i-garchs from Alberta want to build a pipeline to carry bitumen from the oilsands to Kitimat for shipment to China. Environmentalists, many First Nations groups, most of those on the left and many in the centre oppose it.
Plecas has a solution that’s so obvious it’s almost startling in that it hasn’t already been proposed: demand that Alberta split the revenue from the pipeline with B.C.
Apparently, as currently presented, Alberta gains all the revenue. I didn’t realize that, and I bet many others didn’t either.
Splitting the revenue would go a long way to mitigating risks posed by the pipeline. It would probably also appease and immensely help Native and northern communities who, once again, are watching their lands being used by outsiders with no real benefits flowing to them.
Once before in this space, I said that like many in B.C., I was torn on the issue. This solution has cemented my opposition to the pipeline proposal as it now stands.
For allowing the pipeline to cross our territory, B.C. should get more from this pipeline than a few jobs in Kitimat, some extra tax money and a few billion dollars in one-time construction costs.
The pipeline will be operating for decades, and the risks of a leak are high. Half the enormous revenue from the pipeline would more than help with measures to reduce those risks.
For most of its history, B.C. has chosen the quick buck over long-term thinking. Maybe this province should look forward for a change and refuse to allow the pipeline until Alberta splits the booty.