Oil company: Oil spills can be good for the economy

There's an upside to everything, right?

Topics: Big Oil, Oil and Gas, oil industry, oil spill, ,

Kinder Morgan, an oil company petitioning the Canadian government to allow it to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain Pipeline, acknowledges that a large spill could have some pretty devastating effects: environmental destruction, threats to public health, property damage, a “potentially high” impact on mammals and a decimation of local fishing resources, to name just a few.

But there are two sides to everything, so in its 15,000 page, $5.4 billion proposal, the company also highlights a few of the more desirable outcomes of a potential spill. “Pipeline spills can have both positive and negative effects on local and regional economies, both in the short- and long-term,” the report, which was submitted to the National Energy Board, reads. “Spill response and cleanup creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions, and cleanup service providers.”

The company contends it was just trying to be as thorough as possible, and that the inclusion of a statement on the positive impact of oil spills was required by federal regulations. “While we are required by the National Energy Board to explore both the positive and negative socio-economic effects of a spill, it in no way means we accept the inevitability of a spill, nor justify one,” Michael Davies, of Kinder Morgan Canada, told the Vancouver Sun.



The company’s critics, however, contend that expanding the pipeline’s capacity by 70 percent over its current, 300,000 barrel-a-day limit considerably ups the odds of a spill. And they’re outraged that the possibility could be interpreted as anything other than an outright disaster.

“It is an outrageous insult to British Columbians that Kinder Morgan would claim there are possible economic benefits from an oil spill,” Sierra Club BC said in a statement. ”British Columbians deserve good, safe, stable jobs in a vibrant green economy, not hazardous, toxic work struggling to remove heavy oil from beaches and seabirds.”

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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