Beware the oil and gas industry

Should the Yukon open her arms to the tender wooing of oil and gas? Should the Yukon be open to oil and gas exploration? Here is the question we will not see on a territorial referendum any time soon.

Should the Yukon open her arms to the tender wooing of oil and gas?

Should the Yukon be open to oil and gas exploration? Here is the question we will not see on a territorial referendum any time soon.

And isn’t that a shame? Because if it were to happen, we who move around here and breathe the rarified mountain air and drink the crystal-clear water might have some input into what unfolds around us. May I suggest this is exactly what investors don’t want? Yes, I may.

Trouble is the Jed Clampett method of bringing up the oil has become a lot more sophisticated. Not too much is going to happen without a bit of fracking going on.

Have you watched the documentary Gaslands by Josh Fox? Well worth the watch. It’s available online.

He describes going throughout the United States and interviewing people about the practice of fracking. Again and again, common tap water explodes in flames due to the heavy concentration of methane gas. Other places, the tap water is so full of sediment it is totally unusable.

Hundreds of chemicals are added to the mixture, which is pumped deep into the earth. Some are known carcinogens. Add to that, the dozens of semi-loads of water required for each individual bore and you begin to see the scale of what is being proposed.

I have actually only seen one fracking site and it was on my parents’ farm in Saskatchewan. It was a huge operation. An area approximately 60 square metres of topsoil was pushed aside into berms standing about seven metres high. This is to contain any potential spillage.

Just imagine that scene replicated next to your favourite camping spots all over the Yukon. “Fracking is completely safe and poses no threat to the environment or to humans,” signed the investors club.

But what of all the local spinoff benefits of this new and exciting level of activity in the Yukon? For three years, lots of product will be bought locally. That’s the reason for the land use applications near the population centres, to win local support for the project.

After that teaser to get us to like them, it’s a free-for-all, with just about all supplies and labour brought in from elsewhere. (That’s what YESAB stands for by the way – Yes Alberta.) We can wait and see, or just stop it now.

Of course, we nature lovers in the Yukon are just as guilty as anyone else. We hand the Visa to the guy at the pumps so we can go bird watching, and that’s what drives the bird-killing engine pounding its way towards us.

Doug Martens

Teslin