Wednesday, July 25, 2012

NIMBY, a Canuckastan family feud over a pipeline

Updated: 6 May 2015 (Fixed broken links)
I'm Christie from Bee-Cee, part of the clan Canuckastan, who lives on a beautiful property with forests, rivers, lakes, and a long, long sea front. Our property's natural wonders are so great some have even called my home, 'super natural BeeCee.'

Like Canuckastans of yore, we earn lots of money as hewers of wood and gatherers of water. Our pride and joy are our trees and fish, and we welcome visitors who come to enjoy our beauty.

My neighbour Allie, also a Canuckastanian and current head of its 40-year Albertastan sect, and I generally get along fine except for those times in the 1970s and '90s. That's when when she claimed our Bee-Cee sect went rogue and spouted too much leftie nonsense about helping the poor and protecting the environment.

Allie's clan is more into being rugged individualists. To hell with collective action to help the group, they say. Survival of the fittest rules, and the weak should be helped by their nearest and dearest, assuming they have some. If not, tough titty.

Allie herself, however, is educated, urbane, and well travelled. Unlike many of her predecessors, she's well spoken and, horror of horrors to some Albertastanians, reasonably open to the leftie-notion of the benefits of group action.

Rugged individualism aside, Allie's family is lucky because they discovered oil on their land, and her kids have pretty much been on a gravy train ever since. Still, they think of themselves as hard workers who earn every penny and deserve their good fortune. Those to the east, who mostly lack oil, are apparently slackers.

The rest of the Canuckastan clan, especially those arrogant relatives to the east, are viewed as bastards who can freeze in the dark, at least according to a more politically incorrect Albertastan leader of the past, King Ralph.

Thankfully, we live to the west of Allie and, except for revelling in our beauty, are not particularly arrogant. Now that we're not leftie-rogue anymore, Allie wants to put a big pipe across our property so she can send the oil on her property to her new friends across the Pacific and make a lot of money ($81 billion in tax revenue over 30 years).

At first I said, "Sure, but you should give my family a share of what you make." Allie said, "How about 17%" and without thinking I replied, "Great!"

To my surprise, my family hit the roof. Some said we need much more, since we will assume 100% of the risk if the pipe springs a leak, which pipes, being pipes, always do sooner or later.

No way, other family members said. If that damn thing leaks, we'll lose everything. They'll try to clean it up but it'll take years and in the meantime we'll suffer and may even go bankrupt.

Moreover, boats carrying oil are bound to run aground and  spill their cargo sooner or later, same with drilling wells. The 2010 BP spill is just the latest in a long line of disasters.

Screwing up my courage to prevent a family revolt, I asked Allie if we could have a bigger share of the earnings. To my utter surprise, the urbane Allie turns out to be real SOB.

"No way!" she screams. "This isn't the Canuckastan way. Our cousins to the east, even those who've sometimes gone leftie-rogue, have hauled their crappy potash, uranium, and assorted rag-bags across my property and not asked for anything. Even you have lugged your damn trees across my land for free."

Stunned, I don't know what to say. But I suspect immediately that transporting logs and minerals by truck or train doesn't present the same risk as oil flowing through a pipe.

Secretly, I think Allie is afraid of Dannie, her upstart competitor for head of the Albertastan sect. Dannie, normally a champion of bozo-outbreaks and everyone's right to be a redneck Albertastanian, sounds rather conciliatory these days.

SO WHAT? (Learning Points)
Likely lose-lose, but it's one hell of a family fight and critical for the future of Canuckastan.

Seriously, if 'Mike from Canmore' wanted to run a pipe carrying oil through your yard, would you let him, for any amount of money?

Perhaps the target should be Enbridge? USA regulators call them Keystone Kops.

And for old time's sake, Joni's classic
Comments are most welcome.


  1. Anonymous4:48 PM

    Good one, Blut. You have provided resources that highlight the issues, and Joni's song does focus our attention on the strong likelihood of environmental damage regardless of Enbridge's promises of being more careful.

  2. Thanks, rat.

    Enbridge can take more care and promise to do all it can to clean up inevitable spills, but it doesn't change this basic premise:

    Canada's provincial & federal govts. are into risk management and weigh risks vs benefits. Today, with Europe on the brink and USA, our biggest trading partner, struggling, our govts believe we are kept afloat mainly (if not solely) by our energy resources.

    As Clinton's 1992 'war room' politico James Carville put it, "It's the economy stupid."

    In the case of the pipeline across BC,it's short term thinking. Doesn't matter what disasters come later. Harper, Redford, et al, think disasters can be dealt with and are 'small potatoes' compared to the gains.


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