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Well We WERE Overdue for an Oil Spill

Last Wednesday there was a massive oil spill into English Bay in Vancouver. Naturally this has made a lot of environmentalists angry, a lot of oil barons angry, and a select few in the West Coast fisheries industry strangely turned on.
You may recall BC Premier Christie Clark criticized the federal government for the delay in containing the oil and cleaning up the spill. She thinks the responsibility should pass to the provincial government rather than the federally controlled Coast Guard, the members of which were presumably locked in an intense game of Battleship at the time of the spill. It took six hours to quell the leak during which time the spill got worse and twelve hours to notify the city –assuming incorrectly that those on the Vancouver Bayfront would look out their windows every hour or so. This annoyed Clark as well as the mayor of Vancouver who pointed fingers at both her and the federal government. Nevertheless by the weekend most of the oil was cleaned and Clark’s complaints about the Coast Guard were more or less received by the government as “that’s adorable; leave this to the big boys sweetie.”
This incident has once again raised the question of oil transportation safety, something that’s been a topic of discussion in recent years particularly regarding pipelines: Keystone XL, Northern Gateway. And while it’s not very high on government priority lists it’s always around waiting for an episode like this to bring it up again. The English Bay oil spill is certainly not the biggest environmental disaster in recent years (certainly nothing compared to the BP Gulf of Mexico spill of 2010), but it’s making the discussion relevant in Canada once again. The Green Party of Canada leader (yeah that still exists!) Elizabeth May of course is firmly on Premier Clark’s side in the conflict largely blaming the belated response on the government’s famous environmental cutbacks. But the government clearly would rather act like this didn’t happen and therefore there’s not likely to be any new legislation introduced or old legislation brought back to better the rate of emergency responses for oil spills, let alone safety of oil transportation on a whole. Tankers will still be transporting oil with the only change being maybe an extra roll of scotch tape for hull breaches and leaks. Pipeline development will continue letting nothing stand in its way, claiming the lives of some trees, some animals, and a lot of protestors. So in the end the oil spill wasn’t the real disaster; the fact it doesn’t look like it will inspire a major discussion is.

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