Monday, March 15, 2010

Pen Meets Paper Mar.15'10

Opinion by Helge Nome

“Out of sight, out of mind”. That is a well known expression and the truth of it can come back to bite us at the most inopportune times.
This is what we are now finding out about our potable water supply system across the land. 50 year old asbestos cement pipes are slowly crumbling and falling apart under our feet, releasing their deadly asbestos fibers into the water supply of countless millions of people.
Here in Alberta, there is another pipeline system we should also be concerned about.
It is being used to convey oil and gas in their many forms from producing wells to processing and storage facilities across the land, as well as to consumers all over North America and beyond. And that pipeline system is in the same age bracket as the water system.
The question presents itself: Who is going to take on the responsibility of cleaning up this web of piping and its associated environmental pollutants when the energy companies pack up their bags and move on, or go out of business. Are there adequate deposits on hand to clean up the mess if they come to the end of their corporate lives?
We know from experience that all mining ventures have a limited lifetime.
Will foreign based companies feel obliged to act as good corporate citizens on someone else’s soil, far away from domestic public opinion? Or will they simply do what we have done to the “third” world in our ventures there?
Now that we are in the process of becoming a third world country ourselves, with our former colonials coming in to help themselves, it might be payback time? The slag heaps will be donated back to us, free of charge?
We used Chinese indentured laborers to do the most dangerous work in building our great railways. Now the Chinese are buying tar sands holdings in north eastern Alberta to feed their energy hungry industries. The money is coming from them to us, not the other way around, as in the past.
And experience tells us that whoever controls the money also controls the people.
That is pretty obvious from the decision announced by Alberta’s Premier Ed Stelmach recently, to forego some $800 million in oil and gas royalties in an attempt to stay in political office. You see, the energy lobby has been pouring cash into the coffers of the upstart Wild Rose Alliance Party in Alberta in order for them to act as a whipping boy of the hapless Premier and his team. It worked and he begged for mercy by giving them the $800 million in royalty returns on top of $2 billion handed over for carbon dioxide capture to clean up the industry image of generating greenhouse gases. With that kind of government in place, who is going to clean up the mess in the end?
Somehow, I don’t think it will be the Chinese.

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