Thursday, 25 October 2007

Rabaska Gets Go-Ahead, While California Burns

Quebec’s provincial government yesterday gave the green light to development of the Rabaska liquid natural gas port, the second such project to get official approval in six months. Rabaska will be built on the south shore of the St. Lawrence, downstream from Quebec City on prime agricultural land. Last spring the Liberal government approved the Gros Cacouna project, only a little further down river from Rabaska.

Whether Quebec needs two LNG ports is unlikely, even if much of the production is sold to the North East US. Certainly environmental groups are up in arms, and will continue their protest on Sunday with a demonstration in front of the National Assembly in Quebec City.

There is no direct link between Rabaska and the fires which have been burning in Southern California: long before talk of global warming fall was the fire season there. I remember the sky turning dark as twilight when I was a kid in San Diego as ash fell from the sky. We lived on Point Loma, at least 50 to 75 miles away from a huge fire which was scorching the country in Cleveland National Forest, but the Santa Ana winds swept the smoke to the coast, Since then the back country has been burnt many times, but people do not seem to learn. You can’t build houses in canyons and expect help when the brush catches fire. No, more than that: you can’t build cities in dry country—importing water from hundreds and hundreds of miles away—and expect to live an untroubled life. In short, you can’t mess with nature with impunity.

Quebec means “where the river narrows.” As Thomas Mulcair, former Quebec environment minister and now a federal NDP member of Parliament, points out, Rabaska is going to be built at one of the narrowest points on the St. Lawrence. Nothing, it appears, is going to stop Rabaska (and maybe Gros Cacouna,) but we can't say we haven't been warned.

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