The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is an envrionmental disaster of unprecedented scale. It is causing massive hardship across the coast of at least four states.
And the interesting thing is the polling data still shows significant support for offshore drilling in those states most impacted by the spill – Louisiana, Mississippi, etc. There was a national poll and almost 60% of Americans said they didn’t care if BP went under but in the area most impacted, it was a fraction of that. I heard the Senator from Louisiana talking about this on Meet the Press.
Then, yesterday, a judge in – I think it was Louisiana – struck down Obama’s new offshore drilling ban as unconstitutional.
I think about these things. Saskatchewan has a large and expanding oil and gas industry. It is the largest producer of uranium in Canada – maybe North America.
In New Brunswick, when someone hinted there could possibly be uranium mined in the province, there was outrage – signs in every window “No Uranimum Mine”. There is a growing movement to try and block the limited drilling for natural gas. During the Hydro-Quebec debate, a number of intellectuals were way to cavalier saying “who cares if the forest products mills close?”
I realize the federal transfer payment system is meant to buffer poor provinces and allow them to offer their citizens comparably good public services.
But I think we need to appreciate the importance of economic development. It’s become all too easy to dismiss this as a secondary thing in New Brunswick – on the implied assumption that the other guy will take care of us.
Now, before I have to field comments about the dangers of uranium, hydro-fracturing, decemation of the forests, etc. etc. etc. I ask you one thing. Why, in a poor province like New Brunswick, are we less tolerant of many of these industries?
Of course we need to ensure there are strong enviromental safeguards in place around natural gas drilling. Of course our forest products industry needs to be balanced.
But what is our basic posture? I’m not talking about the tenured professors, unfireable bureaucrats, environmentalists and other safe, vested interests. I am talking about the average guy, gal on the street? If their opening position is hostility – I don’t understand this.