Governments have often made decisions based on impulse rather than reason. A classic example is the fallacy of “the last straw” – the straw that broke the camel’s back. Similar impulsive decisions are now being made in the assessment of a pipeline’s effects. Let’s think about that.
If a camel’s back can hold, let’s say, 1000 straws, and if one more straw will break its back, it is illogical to believe that it was only the last straw that broke its back. Each of the 1001 straws has weight. All of them together create load on the camel’s back. The first straw is no better than the last straw. They are all load. If you don’t believe me, just ask the camel!
THE LAST STRAW DIDN’T BREAK THE CAMEL’S BACK
If you remove one or more of the 1000 loaded straws, then adding that proverbial “last straw” will be harmless. The false assumption is that all of the old load is okay, but new load is not. This leads us to the wrong decision: to ban new load while preserving old load. The right question is not “Which load is good load?” but rather, “How should Canada decide who is allowed to add straws onto the camel’s back (up to the maximum load)?” The task is to allocate space rationally on the limited capacity of the camel’s back.
Canada is facing two pipeline-related issues similar to the camel’s back. The first of these is CO2 emissions, the second, underwater noise caused by increased tanker traffic.
Continue reading “The Last Straw and the Pipeline”
The Canadian Senate’s Committee on Energy, the Environment, and Natural Resources invited me to make a short presentation to it on April 2, 2019, on my proposed amendments to the Impact Assessment Act, C-69.
Below I have set out first, my written opening statement, and second, the transcript of my part of the oral presentation with questions from several Senators.
SENATE OF CANADA
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ENERGY, THE ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES
OPENING STATEMENT OF ANDREW ROMAN
April 2, 2019
Madam Chair and Honourable Senators, thank you for inviting me. And a special thanks to Maxime Fortin for arranging my presentation.
I am here because I want Canada’s impact assessment process to work well, for the sake of my children and grandchildren, and for those of all Canadians. That will not be the case unless C-69 is significantly amended. Good ideas that are badly implemented don’t make good laws. Without major amendments it is unlikely that there will be any new pipeline or electricity transmission proposals under C-69.
I have had a 45 year legal career advising and representing clients across Canada. Clients have included some First Nations (FNs), environmental groups, domestic and international corporations and federal and provincial governments. I have taught and practiced environmental law and advocacy. The federal government retained me to draft the first environmental assessment rules for its impact assessments. I have appeared as legal counsel for both the federal government and NGOs in pipeline hearings and court applications arising from them. I have also worked on drafting different kinds of laws for Ottawa and several provinces.
MY WRITING ON C-69
I recently published two blog posts on C-69, receiving over 4,000 views, here:
Analysis of C-69
How to Amend C-69
The second of these has a table providing a detailed list of suggested amendments. I would encourage you to read these blogs.
WHO WILL BE THE WINNERS AND LOSERS UNDER C-69?
Those who want to keep Canada’s oil and gas in the ground will be the winners. Everyone else will be the losers. Continue reading “My Presentation to the Senate on Amendments to the Impact Assessment Act, C-69, April 2, 2019”