Regarding your July 15 story, Crude Awakening, on B.C's proposed oil pipeline expansions: When it comes to the environment and the economy, the common watchword is "balance," implying that both sides have to sacrifice to allow the environment to be protected or the economy to thrive. A merely balanced response is not enough. Instead, our government is focused on "continuous improvement," viewing environmental and economic matters as compatible. In fact, the environment and our expertise in stewardship are themselves economic drivers.
I recently attended a town hall meeting in North Vancouver at which Wilderness Committee director Ben West and Rafe Mair were the speakers. Mr. Mair declared that he "could not think of one good reason" to build any pipelines, regardless of their design to increase exports, generate jobs and stimulate the economy. How many of us are willing to make the changes required to function without petroleum?
How many of us, right now, are taking significant steps in our lives to reduce our oil dependency? Most Canadians recognize that petroleum products are an essential part of modern life and, reasonably, so too is the transport of petroleum. Most Canadians also know it's essential this cargo moves safely.
However, I would go further than most: Not only do we need to protect the environment, we need to continuously improve environmental health. We continue to research natural sciences and the impact of human endeavour. We continue to develop better, more efficient ways to access and to utilize our resources, improving our quality of life and reducing our ecological foot print. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy reported that Canada was fifth in the world in its investment per capita in clean energy research. The result of these efforts leads to high-value jobs and also to greater environmental responsibility.
Let's stick with the facts: The recent Budget Implementation Act allocates $13 million to the improvement of oil tanker safety; pipeline inspections are increased by 50%, from 100 to 150 yearly; annual audits are doubled; and new penalties are introduced for environmental breach and for the discharge of waste waters. Our Government insists on environmental reviews that are thorough, rigorous and completed in a timely fashion. Only projects that satisfy this standard will move forward. Sustainable Development Technology Canada had its budget increased this year - not decreased - with $2.5 billion going into the clean technology sector.
Thanks to constructive input from constituents, I and other B.C. Conservative caucus members are ensuring that cabinet members are exposed to a B.C. viewpoint. This bold B.C.-er is prepared to stand up for this province and be sure that we stay as "super natural" as we are today. We need to define success in terms both economic and environmental, so that future generations may continue to work and play in a country that is the envy of the world.
John Weston, MP West Vancouver - Sunshine Coast - Sea to Sky Country