The Bottom Line
Dr. Patrick Moore
The first sentence talks about renewable potential in geothermal, wind and biomass. That's the come-on, like calling your band Bare Naked Ladies.
The second sentence says we should offset some of the costs of implementing these renewables with revenues from oil and gas.
The rest of the article is a promotion of offshore drilling . The comparison fails here because the BNL do make great music, though they wear clothes and aren't ladies at all.
BC's windfall revenues from existing terrestrial drilling license sales and gas production royalties are already an opportunity to build up the fund that Dr. Moore champions. This fund is in fact one step recommended in "Oil and Gas in British Columbia, 10 Steps to Responsible Development", a set of policy recommendations proposed in 2004 by Dogwood Initiative, West Coast Environmental Law and other organizations.
The first two sentences are absolutely supportable. But it does not follow from the setup, that BC needs to or should expand oil and gas extraction into the ocean, as Dr. Moore proposes.
It is disingenuous and manipulative of Dr. Moore to construct the argument this way. It's the way Imperial Tobacco sells cigarettes: using images of someone climbing a mountain, surrounded by blue skies and clean air, to sell Players brand smokes.
Footnote: Patrick Moore's description of the benefits to marine life of drilling rigs on the ocean floor is reminiscent of a comment by Williams of one benefit of the GSX Pipeline, that its presence would "provide a new environment around which fish may congregate." An artist's impression of how this might look, is here - Arthur Caldicott
So why not use revenue from oil and gas development to research and implement these renewable energies of the future? Such a fund could turn British Columbia into a global leader in sustainability.
The record of safety in offshore drilling has already been established by activities in the North Sea, China, the Gulf of Mexico and Hibernia off Newfoundland.
Indeed, there are marine benefits to such drilling. Undersea infrastructures become artificial reefs that provide habitats for thousands of marine species -- from shellfish to herring. An artificial reef society in Vancouver sinks decommissioned vessels and aircraft to enhance marine life for the benefit of divers.
The U.S. is also putting the artificial reef concept to action. Research funded by the Minerals Management Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and the industry-supported California Artificial Reef Enhancement Program involved extensive underwater surveys of marine life at rigs and natural reefs in the Santa Barbara Channel.
The research shows that drilling platforms are important not just as collectors of marine life but also as fish producers. The rigs harboured huge numbers of young rockfish in greater concentrations than the natural reefs, as well as more large adult rockfish than did the natural habitats. The rigs were home to more fish and more species of fish than the natural reefs.
Offshore drilling and aquaculture can also work hand-in-hand. In California, there is a proposal for an aquaculture cage system to be anchored to a decommissioned oil platform, allowing aquaculture in an exposed location.
There are over 3,000 oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. When some were exhausted, the government and the oil companies began planning to remove them. Unexpectedly, it was the fishermen who demanded the rigs be left in place. It turns out 85 per cent of all fishing trips in the Gulf target oil reefs because that is where most of the fish can be found. The artificial reef is a powerful enhancer of marine productivity.
There is no reason why active aquaculture operations could not take place while an offshore oil platform was in active production. By ensuring any negative environmental impacts are detected early, the farmed fish or shellfish would act as the proverbial canaries in the coal mine.
The offshore energy initiative offers economic development to struggling coastal communities and provides enhanced marine productivity. Proceeds can be used to develop renewable energies to keep B.C. green well into the future.
The people, economy and environment will benefit. It makes sense.
- Dr. Patrick Moore, was a co-founder of Greenpeace and is chairman and chief scientist of the Vancouver-based Greenspirit Strategies Ltd.