Eagle Plains is being marred by gas development

Open letter to Richard Wyman, president of Northern Cross (Yukon) Ltd. You have a dream. A dream wherein you extract the hidden treasures from the deep underground at Eagle Plains and hope that someday, somehow, somewhere, a pipeline will ma

Jannik Schou

Open letter to Richard Wyman, president of Northern Cross (Yukon) Ltd.

You have a dream. A dream wherein you extract the hidden treasures from the deep underground at Eagle Plains and hope that someday, somehow, somewhere, a pipeline will materialize to facilitate getting your product to market. A perfectly natural dream when in your line of business.

You are confident about the presence of large quantities of oil and gas in the area. Over the years you have increased your company holdings to 5,000 square kilometres. That is a sizeable chunk of our northern landscape and, if successful in your venture, we shall see an incremental but relentless industrialization of the Eagle Plains region over the next decades.

In an area where a cutline made half a century ago clearly stands out today, a full scale oil and gas project will have irrevocable environmental impacts as all-season roads spread and industry installations of all kinds mar the landscape. That’s the nature of the business; anybody who has driven the endless resource roads in the Fort Nelson area knows precisely what I’m talking about.

In January I attended your presentation at the legislature as well as the information session in June at the Yukon Inn. In your attempt to appease the public, you know what you need to say. However, what I became aware of are the things you prefer to leave out.

Applying positive spin by emphasizing things like “sensitivity to the environment” and “minimizing our footprint,” you talked about the pains you’ve taken to avoid making six kilometres of new trail or road someplace. But the roughly 4,000 kilometres of new seismic lines you cut this past winter, including some 225 km of access roads, somehow didn’t qualify for comment!

You projected a fuzzy iPhone snap taken from an aircraft of an old wide cutline being joined by a narrow wiggly line, and indicated that the latter is your standard today. Mr. Wyman, that’s deception in the extreme. In fact your company has cut many hundreds of kilometres of line virtually straight as an arrow, dissecting your exploration area into a tight grid with less than 300 metres between the lines.

You spoke with pride about how tidy you keep it around your drill rig but let’s not get distracted by trivia, the fact is that in the next phase of your project you hope to extend all-season roads to 20 new drill sites. As you acknowledged, there will be flare stacks. Welcome to northern Yukon – home of the bright winter nights.

You made a point of emphasizing that you do not expect to need hydraulic fracturing – probably a good thing given the widespread opposition to fracking in the Yukon. However, in January I noted that you expressed an interest in being able to frack should it prove advantageous sometime in the future.

Following your presentation it was time for the advertised Q and A, but you wiped that one off the table swiftly by stating that there wouldn’t be one. So much for that – and so much for the “honesty and integrity,” “open and honest discussion” and “timely information” highlighted on your posters.

If you were concerned that penetrating questions would steal your show and give you bad press you got away with it but amongst many in the audience you sowed nothing but distrust, not allayed by the availability of you and your staff for individual queries.

“When we are finished with our activities, we will return the land to its natural state,” said the writing on the wall. Easy to say and sounds good, but who are you trying to kid?

You are dreaming, Mr. Wyman, and may your dreams forever remain exactly that: dreams.

Thanks for the coffee.

Jannik Schou lives in Lake Laberge

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

A pedestrian passes by an offsales sandwich board along Fourth Avenue in Whitehorse on Oct. 22. NDP MLA Liz Hanson raised concerns Oct. 21 in the legislature about increased hospitalizations due to alcohol consumption that correlate with an extension in the hours alcohol can be sold in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Alcohol-related hospitalizations rise after off-sales hours extended

Reduced hours for off-sale liquor establishments likely part of Liquor Act spring reforms

Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys) speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. The Yukon government has announced $2.8 million in tourism relief funding aimed at businesses in the accommodation sector that have already maxed out existing funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tourism relief funding offers $2.8 million to hotels and overnight accommodations

$15 million in relief funding is planned for the tourism sector over the next three years

The Whitehorse sewage lagoons photographed in 2011. With new regulations for wastewater anticipated to be introduced by the federal government within the next decade, the City of Whitehorse may soon be doing some prep work by looking at exactly what type of pollutants are making their way into the city’s wastewater. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Pondering pollutants

City could spend $70,000 looking at what contaminents are in waste water

Most of Whitehorse Individual Learning Centre’s class of 2020 graduates. The former students were welcomed back and honoured by staff at the school on Oct. 14 with a personalized grad ceremony for each graduate. (Submitted)
Individual Learning Centre grads honoured

Members of the Whitehorse Individual Learning Centre’s class of 2020 were welcomed… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

asdf
COMMENTARY: Me and systemic racism

The view from a place of privilege

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading

Evan Lafreniere races downhill during the U Kon Echelon Halloweeny Cross-Country Race on Oct. 16. (Inara Barker/Submitted)
Costumed bike race marks end of season

The U Kon Echelon Bike Club hosted its final race of the… Continue reading

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee, right, before question period at the Yukon legislative assembly in Whitehorse on March 7, 2019. The Yukon government announced Oct. 19 it has increased the honoraria rates for school council members. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Honoraria increased for school council members

Members of school councils throughout the territory could soon receive an increased… Continue reading

Most Read