Big oil has no place in the Yukon

After reading numerous letters to the editor, as well as various articles having to do with impending oil and gas exploration, I thought I might add my voice to what seems to be a growing bias towards keeping the Yukon

After reading numerous letters to the editor, as well as various articles having to do with impending oil and gas exploration, I thought I might add my voice to what seems to be a growing bias towards keeping the Yukon a place of beauty and unspoiled wilderness.

Things that strike me lately are opinions that our resources and territory are here to be exploited, developed or utilized in the name of progress. As though to maintain a state of being in a manner largely unchanged to the outside observer is a bad thing somehow.

A recent comment on how Air North having to deal with competition will encourage cheaper fares from the south and how people may be encouraged to move here or companies will have an easier time bringing up workers as a result of cheap flights implied a higher population is somehow a goal and something to strive for.

The Yukon is such a special place, precisely because it is rich in many resources. For the most part, we have had the good fortune in being able to leave things alone and relatively unspoiled.

The name of our territory alone conjures up special images of untamed wilderness and striking vistas that bring folks from far and wide just to see and take home a small part of what we take for granted: clean air and water and an unmolested landscape that is becoming rarer and rarer from a global perspective.

Hearing that the government has been courting bidders to come here and see what’s in the ground brought me a feeling of trepidation – the feeling that we are about to be sold down the river by our government to those that would come here and take what they can while things are still kind of wild and woolly, so to speak.

Big oil has no place here, in my estimation. To imagine they would want to come here in an effort to aid us with our energy needs is laughable. If they come here, it is for one thing only – money. And it won’t be to aid us in generating revenue to better our territory. It’ll be to line the pockets of the shareholders of whatever companies are allowed to come and exploit what has thus far been left where it belongs – in the ground.

That the govies would try to slide this one by is no big surprise to me. The tone of the meeting in Tagish seemed to be, “there’s not much you as the public can do about the situation but we thought you might like to talk about it anyway.”

As though the populace might be made to feel better if maybe they could express how they feel about big money coming in and romping about, all the while being reassured by the oil and gas representative that he shares the opinions and concerns of the people, and thinks the practices from down south are deplorable but would never happen here.

I think it could easily happen here, especially if the residents potentially affected by the activities proposed let it in with the hope that the govies will do what’s best rather than what may be best for the interests of a few politicians and some big money interests from Outside.

I could even get online if the goal were to develop a gas deposit for the needs of the territory for power generation. But when they talk of exporting oil and gas from here to the south, well that’s where the bulk of the money will go as well – south.

When they mention that interests from China are having dealings in the pending exploration up near Eagle Plains, please don’t imagine that the Chinese are here in our best interests. They are here because we have something that they want and are willing to let it go relatively cheap or are willing to develop a resource that helps them procure yet another resource down the road.

Perhaps a natural gas installation up the Dempster would be just the ticket to fuel exploration/development of nearby mineral interests, for example.

I recently saw a documentary on the Internet called Gasland. It was by a young man who was affected by gas companies coming into his home state, offering ranchers and farmers contracts to drill for gas on their land.

The film is amazing to watch. What really struck me was not even the spoiled water table or the callousness of the companies once they got a foot in the door. What was really striking was the sheer volume of water required in the process of fracking.

The numbers escape me now but on a site-by-site basis, the volume of water used was unbelievable. Imagine watching tanker after tanker after tanker, full of water, all going to the same site to be combined with various chemicals and injected into the ground under high pressure. That water is gone. The chemicals stay down there and the same fracturing of the shale that allows the gas to be accessed also allows the contaminated water to potentially enter the water table. I really encourage folks to search for the documentary and watch it.

I hope that people will make their opinions known to the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.

I hope, also, that people will demand to know the content of the opinions collected as a part of the department’s consultation process. I encourage that the issue be voted on in a referendum and let the future in this regard be decided by the voice of the people rather than the voice of parties sitting on the political and big money-side of the table.

Both sides must be heard. It may well be that the people say, “Let’s do it,” but at least it’s the voice of the people. The deadline is March 30, I believe, so time is short.

The time frame for consultation is much too short. There are way too many issues that are unclear on many fronts when it comes down to it. Clarity is key here.

Bob Foster