COLUMN: Resource extraction good, but there are concerns

Did up you know that in Alberta alone there are more than 450,000 oil and gas wells?

Did up you know that in Alberta alone there are more than 450,000 oil and gas wells? That’s more holes than in a block of Swiss cheese the size of my house.

Virtually the entire province of Alberta is underlain with shale gas, as is half of Saskatchewan and a fairly good chunk of northeastern B.C. When you look at a map of the reserves throughout North America, Canada appears to be the major player – if we were selling the gas. But we’re not, at least not in a big way.

Maybe we need to have a drawl to be large in the oil and gas business. Gas reserves in Texas pale in comparison to those in Canada, but right now they dominate because they are quickly tapping into international markets while we can’t seem to get a pipe into the ground, at least one that ships product for sale overseas.

In Texas the oil market is king. In British Columbia (and it seems in the rest of Canada), everything but the financial bottom line is vastly more important.

Until, of course, the money flow ceases, along with health care benefits, welfare, transit, parks, hospitals, education and anything else you want to credit with the lifestyle we live.

Everyone decries the social network in the U.S., and I agree that for the poor it is appallingly inadequate, and health care incredibly expensive. Yet in Canada, we have done a reasonably good job of trying to take care of everyone. Yes, there’s poverty, and to a lesser degree discrimination.

But on the whole we do things differently here: we care about people, we try not to offend and we go to great lengths to accommodate.

It matters not what life is like for the average Texan, or the average Saudi, though I am led to believe it is good.

What matters to me is the average Canadian. And to maintain what we have here, we need to be able to compete, deliver and reap the bounty of what we have.

I do, however, have concerns about the environmental legacy we may be leaving behind if we don’t exploit our resources properly.

For example, we must be cautious with how we seal and secure abandoned wells and the potential lasting effects of those actions if done wrong.

According to a recent study by the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre, some 41 billion litres of waste water was pumped into a single well near Fort Nelson in northeast B.C.

That much water, and I hate these quantifying comparisons, is enough to fill 16,700 Olympic swimming pools!

This was not clean water, but fluid contaminated with all sorts of compounds, possibly including lead, arsenic and radio-active materials.

Additionally, since oil and gas production began in the western Canadian Sedimentary Basin underlying the prairies of Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, enough waste water and industrial fluids have been pumped into it to fill a lake 21 kilometres long, one km deep and one km wide.

We have been pumping massive amounts of dangerous stuff into the ground, without really knowing where it will eventually end up – like in the aquifer.

That’s a possibility, since “fracking’” – short for fracturing the rock in search of gas – is also creating small earthquakes, something like 38 of them in northeastern B.C. between 2009 and 2012.

* Much of the statistical information provided above was gleaned from stories by Margaret Munro, published in the Vancouver Sun, Dec. 11.

Merry Christmas!

markrushton@abbynews.com

 

 

 

Just Posted

Semis catch fire at Bradner-area wrecker off Highway 1 in Abbotsford

Crews called to scene at around 2 p.m., finding up to six semis that had caught fire at the wrecker

Abbotsford group meets to kick off local Green New Deal talks

Organizer says climate movement started small locally, but hopes to expand moving forward

City of Abbotsford organizing renewed homelessness forum

Local forum in June to come after regional forum fell out due to snowy weather in February

Up-front price tag for new Abbotsford/Mission water source rises

Consultants suggest shifting $7 million in costs from project’s second stage

Abbotsford’s newest public art unveiled in historic downtown

Mural adorns back of Hemingway’s Books on Montrose Avenue

Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

Toronto will play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors next

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Most Read