I understand that everyone has different opinions across all aspects of life. Whether it’s from a person’s upbringing, life experience, or beliefs, our opinions are diverse and a great part about being Canadian. Recognizing the diversity of opinions is how any society comes to constructive, realistic compromises that benefit all sides. Understanding this, and with much reflection, I still don’t under absolute objection to resource projects. It’s incredibly hypocritical, and if it weren’t for the seriousness of these damaging views, it would be outright hysterical. It’s not that I don’t support a push for constant environmental improvement or bringing to light environmental concerns, but absolute objection has been ironically seen time and time again to hurt the very causes these objections claim to support.
When I say absolute objection, I’m speaking of the people that have the unwavering view that a project should not proceed under any circumstance, at any cost, for any reason. I don’t want to class all environmentalists under such a bad connotation, but it is the guise that so many of these special interest groups hide under. I believe that most, if not all, absolute objectionists are truly attempting to have a positive impact, but they don’t realize the impact these negative views truly have. When you have common sense environmentalists who recognize real problems and have real solutions, they very often can sit down with business, government and industry and find solutions to these problems in a very amicable manner. I’ve seen it time and time again. The problem is when it becomes un-amicable, and there is no common ground. It creates division, hinders progress and leads to unproductive protest, litigation and stalling progress on a specific project and society as a whole.
What they fail to realize is that often the projects that are supported by environmental groups have to go through the same processes and meet the same criteria of the projects they oppose. While they may have the luxury of the discrimination, the EAO office does not. If a pipeline meets fierce resistance due to the strategy of the absolute objection, it sets a precedence for incredibly difficult, costly, and restrictive conditions. If that strategy doesn’t succeed, absolute objectionists then fight frivolous legal battles with a goal of delaying a project resulting in nothing other than economic ruins for the proponent. It’s very unfair when once side is fiscally responsible to investors, and the other’s business strategy is to spend money quickly on legal battles in an attempt to raise more. Rarely is there a chance of a legitimate legal of victory, which can be seen with a staggeringly low success rate of these legal battles. While not a Canadian example the Grain Belt Express just won another legal battle after years of trying to build an electrical transmission line to get renewable mid-west wind energy to eastern consumer markets.1
As this example shows, when a renewable energy project requires a power transmission line to be constructed to bring power to market, or the government wants to build a highway, these same conditions now need to be achieved. In legal jargon, the precedence has been set. In an attempt to skyrocket the cost of a pipeline, they have simultaneously increased the cost of renewables, public projects and the overall goal of environmental protection, emissions, or any actual progress in the development of infrastructure. They are raising energy costs from all sources, increasing British Columbians’ cost of living, making our economy uncompetitive on the world stage, all while making no actual progress on the goals they claim to represent.
In a similar fashion, there was great opposition to the development of Site C. It was touted as unnecessary and only for the benefit LNG. It was portrayed as a government subsidy for the fossil fuel industry; fortunately, it was allowed to proceed. Now we are seeing a huge demand in the electric vehicle market. Growth was primarily driven by the need to lower emissions from transportation and improved electric vehicle technology. Electric vehicles have now exceeded 9% of new vehicle sales in BC2. If it weren’t for the development of Site C, where would a clean source of renewable electricity come from? Electrification of BC transportation would be for not if we simply imported this power for other jurisdictions dependant on fossil fuel generation.
It’s time to recognize that BC needs to celebrate the amazing opportunities we have in the natural resource sector. We need to sit down and have real conversations that focus on progress and innovation, not opposition and absolutes. We need to speak out against opposition that drives us backwards, not forwards. Let’s stop driving economic investment out of this province. We need to find solutions, not problems. We need BC resources to create BC jobs. By doing so, we can preserve our jobs, our future and our environment. We need to educate people, so they know #whyshouldyoucare.