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One Year after the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster

Today is the 1 year anniversary of the devastating spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  I am still haunted by the stories, images and ongoing impacts of what has been called the worst environmental disaster in the U.S.

I received a call yesterday from a journalist at Sun Media, Sharon Singleton, inquiring whether I thought Canada was prepared for a similar disaster.

In short, no.

As quoted in the article, ‘Canada ‘unprepared for Arctic drilling,’ “”The NEB review is looking at this from the lens of how can we make this safe, rather than whether we should be doing it at all,” said Andrea Harden Donahue, energy and climate justice campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “There is no secure way of dealing with spilled oil in icy waters, if you think it was a disaster in the Gulf, you can’t imagine what it would be like up there.”

To this, I add that the focus needs to be not only on the unacceptable risks of drilling in the Canadian Arctic, but also on the responsibility world wide of governments, faced with a climate crisis, to starting choosing to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

There have been a number of studies looking at how much existing reserves of fossil fuels we can burn if we want to stay below a 2 degree global temperature rise, let alone a more ambitious goal, and the answer is that a substantial portion of what we already have access to needs to remain untapped.

Singleton also interviewed Andrew Miall, professor of geology at the University of Toronto, who added, “We would be completely unable to get to it and in the icy waters it wouldn’t degrade so it would be there for decades, if not hundreds of years.”

I also wrote an op-ed on this topic that will be appearing in the Georgia Straight soon – more to come on this.