The decision of the past Government of Quebec to reverse course and order a BAPE review was a financial disaster for Questerre and others. Having lost much of our stock value due to well delays, we lost most of the balance, when the BAPE stunned us with its recommendations.
The BAPE was so independent that it felt free to completely ignore its mandate. It was asked to review best practices around the world and make recommendations on how Quebec might proceed.
The report largely ignored the science and reality of proven experience in other places. It didn’t even bother to go to the world’s leaders at resource development: Alberta or Norway. Rather, after a tour of Quebec and Pennsylvania it pandered to rumors, concerns, fears, and allegations started by US environmentalists. As one anonymous observer said at the time “it’s written in crayon”.
So how did I, an Alberta based oil and gas President, end up being a defender of the BAPE’s independence in Quebec?
To start, an immediate campaign was commenced to say all stakeholders should be represented-except industry. One industry representative was quickly drummed out in favor of an extra environmentalist. Soon followed reports of militants intimidating citizen members of the Committee at public meetings.
If that wasn’t enough, after the election of the new Government, well known opponents started bragging they were in control. Well known opponents were even named to the cabinet. Soon after, senior BAPE staff were dismissed and replaced with – you guessed it – well known opponents of shale gas.
Then several Ministers reversed the Government policy and publicly made plain their personal opinions about natural gas development. Even saying it doesn’t bring economic benefits, which would be a petit surprise in Alberta and Norway.
The everyday citizens on the committee are now put in the awkward position of having to speak truth to power. It will take some very independent people to do it. Hence my recent interest in defending on social media the need for an independent BAPE. I wonder if we could all agree it would be good:
to also study and visit places where oil and gas is successful,
to study the results of the SEA before expressing an official opinion,
for the Government to take over from me and defended the independence of the BAPE and the SEA?