Anti-oilsands rhetoric distorts accurate assessment of risk

Blog, Transportation, Joseph Quesnel

Apparently Quebec’s environment affairs has problems with plans to import crude from Alberta’s oil sands to Montreal refineries.

Daniel Breton, a former environmental activist, mentioned that there are “environmental risks with oil.” He then made specific mention of a major oil spill in 2010 on the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. That pipeline was owned by Calgary-based Enbridge.

But, the problem is there is risk with transporting any natural resources. The point is to minimize that risk as much as possible and mitigate any environmental effects if any problems occur.

As argued on these entries before, transporting oil or gas by pipeline is one of the safest modes out there. Railway is demonstrably less safe.

The discourse surrounding the oil sands, however, distorts this realistic assessment of risk.

If there are plans to ship oil to eastern markets, the assessment of risk by pipeline and other methods should rational and not based on knee jerk fear.

At present, the bulk of Quebec’s oil comes from overseas tankers. Have they ever stopped to assess the safety of that?