There is a lot of environmental hand-wringing going on these days.
In Washington, President Barack Obama is playing political brinkmanship with Canada over the approval to the Keystone XL pipeline project. In British Columbia, there is mounting opposition to the Northern Gateway project. In Kitchener, concerns over the endangered Jefferson salamander have delayed the much-needed River Road extension by several years and added millions to the estimated cost.
I ask myself: How many of the important infrastructure projects of bygone eras would actually get the go-ahead today? I’m thinking of projects like the Hoover Dam in the U.S. southwest, and the St. Lawrence Seaway along the Canada-U.S. border. These engineering feats have been of enormous benefit to society. I have no doubt that special interest groups and environmental activists would raise significant roadblocks to those endeavours today.
Northern Gateway opposition is the latest controversy to pique my interest. How many of the naysayers are opposed to any method of exporting bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands? How many are opposed because the White House won’t approve Keystone, so there must be something wrong with the concept, right? How many are just holding out for a bigger slice of the economic pie?
The oil sands are too valuable a resource to ignore. We have got to find a safe way to bring that product to market. This is the St. Lawrence Seaway of our time.
(Source: letter by Roland Huget to The Record in Kitchener, Ontario – July 2, 2014)