LETTER: Kitimat refinery part of gold rush mentality

Selling Asia petrochemicals comes at what cost to environment?

Retired CEO Jim Shepard apparently sees nothing but puppies and rainbows in David Black’s proposal for an oil refinery in Kitimat.

In fact, he is so enthused about the project that he pronounces it “beyond any political persuasion” and suggests that even Green Party supporters should jump on the bandwagon.

Sadly, Mr. Shepard (who incidentally was an economic advisor to Christy Clarke before becoming president of the anti-NDP Concerned Citizens for B.C group, in case anyone’s interested) manages to conveniently overlook a few negatives.

First, any plan for a refinery in Kitimat still involves a pipeline to get the bitumen from the tar sands to the B.C. coast – a pipeline that would cross several mountain ranges and hundreds of creeks and rivers in a very remote and unspoiled part of our province. And once that pipeline is in, do we really think that there won’t be any tankers carrying bitumen off our coast? I am sure there will be plenty of extra bitumen capacity for enthusiastic Chinese refineries to purchase.

But secondly, and more importantly, this project is a big step in the wrong direction. Do we really want to be among the elite of the carbon-exporting nations? Make no mistake, this is not about energy independence, it’s about selling Asia all the petrochemicals that it can burn. Undoubtedly, this could bring prosperity to our province and our country, but at what cost? So that a billion Chinese can become the energy pigs that we are? The atmosphere can’t take it, folks.

If the Chinese are as interested in “securing (a) sustainable supply of resources” as Mr. Shepard suggests they are (and Jim, the last time I checked oil was not considered a “sustainable” resource) then let them invest in Canadian alternative energy technologies.

This gold rush mentality has to end. Do we as Canadians really have such a low opinion of ourselves and our own inventiveness that we feel our only chance for economic survival depends on runaway fracking and tar sands exploitation?

Greg Davis