The TransMountain pipeline has operated safely for 60 years. If the dire predictions of environmental apocalypse made by protesters on Burnaby Mountain for the past several weeks were ever to come true they would have already.
The foreign-funded anti-oilsands movement relies on people to not know that. They also rely on people to not know about their foreign funding. But in terms of the things they rely on people to not know it’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
If anything, the Burnaby Mountain protest was symbolic of that dependence upon ignorance. It becomes immediately and undeniably clear when one considers what, specifically and explicitly, protesters were trying to stop on Burnaby Mountain: scientific work.
As part of the process of preparing to expand the TransMountain pipeline, Kinder Morgan commissioned the drilling of two core sample wells. The wells themselves are purely for the purpose of geological surveying: they give indications as to the mountain’s composition. The specific data that Kinder Morgan was seeking was whether or not the mountain is stable enough for the company to drill through in order to run their pipeline.
Although the protesters have declared themselves 100% victorious, this showdown was at best a 50/50 draw. They had set out to prevent the drilling of those core samples, and in the end Kinder Morgan abandoned only the second planned drill. That may have had more to do with preliminary results that the mountain is, indeed, stable enough to drill through than with the nuisance posed by some maniacal protesters.
Attempting to prevent the drilling of the samples was attempting to deny Kinder Morgan information instrumental in their application to twin the existing pipeline. That ignorance actually cuts both ways: not only would Kinder Morgan not have the information necessary to show that the mountain is safe for the planned project, those opposing the project would also not have the information necessary to argue that it is not.
In this case ignorance would have clearly worked in the anti-oilsands movement’s favour: the National Energy Board could hardly grant approval for the project while blind to such safety concerns. Kinder Morgan would not have been able to argue in full confidence that the mountain is safe. But only in the case of the anti-oilsands movement would that ignorance and blindness have been willful.
It’s a curious position for people who rely on science as their justification to strike. Unless, of course, they’re not really serious about the science of the issue and they never really have been.
The reliance on ignorance seemed to pop its ugly head once again when Kinder Morgan appeared in court to argue for the enforcement of an injunction the court had granted against the protesters. Protesters chained themselves to the doors of the courtroom in a bid to deny Kinder Morgan entrance, perhaps hoping that the court would rule in ignorance of Kinder Morgan’s arguments if only they could prevent the company from being heard.
That’s food for thought when the next round of protest begins, and in future battles against the extreme anti-development left.