LOCAL EDITORIAL: Can oil and water mix?

The debate about oil pipelines and supertankers in this province is entering a significant new phase.

The debate about oil pipelines and supertankers in this province is entering a significant new phase.

In its first report, a B.C.-Alberta government working group on energy development recommends increasing “the public’s energy literacy on oil transportation, production and impacts on daily life.”

Since the group was formed by Premier Alison Redford, whose province’s economy runs on oil, and Christy Clark, whose province has serious economic challenges, expect the group to favour oil and gas development.

As reported by Black Press B.C. legislature reporter Tom Fletcher, the report notes a “disconnect between public perception and the reality” of the importance of oil and gas to the Canadian economy.

There’s truth to this.

While many people understand the devastating effects of an oil spill, the economic upside is a case industry and government still have to truly make.

For starters, the industry is the largest contributor to Canada’s balance of trade.

Canada is losing an estimated $50 million a day in potential revenue due to lack of access to oil customers outside the U.S., adds the report.

It further urges a better effort to educate people in communities, First Nations and schools about the upside of the industry to counter “misinformation on numerous fronts.”

Speaking of which, the report paints a rosy picture of oil spill response off the B.C. coast in spite of a B.C. government study showing little capacity to recover crude oil spilled off the North Coast.

As usual in a battle for our hearts and minds with so much at stake, expect misinformation from both sides.

To make the best possible decision, though, in a referendum or an election that will decide the matter, we should educate ourselves.

At the heart of this is weighing the economic benefits against inevitable environmental catastrophe. If oil and gas exploration doesn’t happen, we might have to make some lifestyle changes.