The Jobs Argument and the Costs of Energy Development: Two Views

A December study by the right-wing Fraser Institute starts from two foundations: “every proposed oil and gas project in Canada affects at least one First Nation’s community and secondly, these young and highly unemployed communities are sorely in need of jobs. Oil and gas development can provide those jobs and a way out of poverty and into prosperity.” To bolster its arguments, the study states that “In 2010, more than 1,700 aboriginal people were directly employed in oilsands operations. Over the past 12 years aboriginal-owned companies have secured more than $5 billion worth of contracts from oilsands developers in the region.”

The David Suzuki Foundation has released an alternative view in a report about industrial development in the Peace River Region. Passages from the Peace states that there are 16,267 oil and gas wells, 28,587 kilometres of pipeline, 45,293 kilometres of roads and 116,725 kilometres of seismic lines packed into the region, and the  lives and well-being of local First Nations and non-aboriginal farming communities is being adversely affected. Suzuki will present the report during the public consultation period (December and January) of a 3-person joint federal and provincial Environmental Assessment Panel which is touring the Peace River Region in Northern British Columbia. The Site C Dam proposed by B.C. Hydro is a $7.9-billion hydroelectric dam proposed to be built seven kilometres downstream from Fort St. John, and would flood an 83-kilometre stretch of the Peace River upstream, as well as the mouth of the Moberly and Halfway Rivers. Opponents are also concerned about the impact downstream, on Wood Buffalo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. As yet there is no First Nations consensus position, and B.C. Hydro is arguing that the project is expected to produce 10,000 direct jobs and employment for thousands more indirectly.

LINKS

Opportunities for First Nation Prosperity through Oil and Gas Development is at: http://www.fraserinstitute.org/uploadedFiles/fraser-ca/Content/research-news/research/publications/opportunities-for-first-nation-prosperity-through-oil-and-gas-development.pdf

Passages from the Peace, is at the David Suzuki Foundation website at:  http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/reports/2013/passages-from-the-peace-community-reflections-on-changing-peace-region/

“First Nations welcome Site C review panel” (Dec. 9) in the Globe and Mail at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/first-nations-welcome-site-c-review-panel/article15835573/

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