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Oil-soaked marsh from Plains Midstream spill (supplied photo)

Every one of us stops and looks at our own situation sometimes and asks, “Why the hell am I doing this?”

This self examination may be about personal habits such as, “Why do I play the slots when they’re mathematically impossible to beat?” Or, “Why do I do this job when I’ve long had an alternative I would love?” Or it may be, “Who do I think I’m kidding when I say I don’t drink too much?!”

I had this blood rush to my head the other morning when I read the Globe and Mail’s article on the Plains Midstream oil line burst into the Red Deer River. This is the second major spill for Plains Midstream within the past two years and bids fair to be the largest oil disaster in Alberta’s history. (Remember that this is ordinary crude not the Bitumen Enbridge and the tankers are all about.)

This article debates the ways and means to take pipelines either through, above or under a stream or river – Enbridge would cross 1000 of them.

This had me reflecting on the proposed Enbridge twin lines (one to carry the bitumen and one to take condensate back to the Tar Sands) over the Rockies, into the trench, over the Coast Range through the Great Bear Rainforest to the head of treacherous Douglas Channel.

We’re starting to hear all about how Enbridge will apply its talents to the safest pipeline money can buy; at the same time we’re hearing about how much safer tanker traffic is than in days of yore.

What the hell are we doing even considering this project, let alone debating how “safe” we can make it? Do we, as a people, have to put our hand on the stove to confirm all the evidence that we’ll get burned? And why are we doing all this as a favour to Alberta and Ottawa?

It suddenly struck me that it was like was talking with my doctor about how to remove my appendix when I had no symptoms of appendicitis. If I didn’t need to take a risk then why would I? So the surgeon could make some money? So it must surely be asked about the Enbridge pipeline and the subsequent tanker traffic, “WHY IN GOD’S NAME ARE WE EVEN TALKING ABOUT PERMITTING THESE CERTAIN DISASTERS IN OUR PRECIOUS LAND AND COASTLINE?”

There has never been a less necessary catastrophe in the making in our history.

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