A 140 page long tweet

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A self appointed, self named, ad hoc collective has published an update to an old report.  Their hypothesis is that regulations in Quebec are so poor that they are “a way to sacrifice fresh water for a few drops of oil”.  It reads like a one-sided twitter debate complete with links to media articles.

As you might imagine from the title, if you are dead set against oil and gas development you will like their report quite a lot.  The authors include well known activists with strong opinions and their bias remains on clear display.  The collective’s report dredges up the old debates of 2010 where cherry picked data and media reports are used to refute industry experts. The debate proved unproductive then because the activists weren’t experts but industry experts were considered biased. 

It was to avoid opinion-based science (some call it junk science) that the BAPE called for a Strategic Environmental Assessment (“SEA”) to independently and scientifically study modern oil and gas techniques.  The United States called on the Environmental Protection Agency to do much the same, for much the same reason.

The result of the SEA is the most vast study of modern oil and gas in Canada.  The only problem is real scientists don’t do press conferences.  The studies and the public consultations are not exactly ‘on the edge of your seat stuff’.  So media virtually ignoring them in spite of the brouhaha of 2010 is understandable, if disappointing. 

Industry has reviewed the studies of the SEA.  We have presented respectfully at the public consultations on the areas where we disagree with the independent experts.  For example carbon leakage is a major issue where Quebec policies increase global emissions.  The success of Norway in balancing development with the environment is largely because they are so effective in addressing the issue of carbon leaks. Yet the SEA didn’t study the impacts of Quebec carbon leaks.

The collective also call their report a vast study.  In actuality it isn’t even really a review of the scientific literature.  The majority of the citations are to media and blog articles.  Their references to actual studies are once again cherry picked just like the old debate in 2010.  It’s like a 140 page long tweet arguing and stating polemic opinions designed to provoke confrontation and controversy.  I love a twitter argument as much as anyone but its time to look forward. 

Rather than returning to the confrontation and debates of 2010 let’s address the real issues.  Everyone including Government agrees we need new laws and regulations.  This is why the pilot programs on Anticosti Island are subject to such strict oversight, review and study. We respect the collective has legitimate concerns and they raise many good questions.  Pilot programs like Petrolia’s are an ideal fashion to answer those questions and address the concerns.  We would have thought the collective if it was looking for data and solutions it would have supported this approach.

It’s almost six years later.  Today we can move forward by using the independent findings of experts to work together and create a modern, strict and effective law for Quebec.  There is a real opportunity to do what Norway does and that America is doing now: reduce carbon leaks and society’s impact on the global environment and improve the economy at the same time.  

Its common sense that acting locally and producing our own needs is better for both the environment and the economy than importations.