The Buccaneer public meeting at McNeil Canyon Elementary School illustrated wide gaps in perception between the Australian company and local residents. The meeting started with a local resident noting that “Responsibility” was pasted in large letters on the gym wall. It ended with the unanswered question, “who will go to jail?”
In-between was a lot of saccharin-laced sweet talk by company representatives repeating usual oil company mantra.
I think the “who will go to jail” comment gets to the heart of why there is now so much distrust with our “rigorous” (or is it rigor mortise) permitting system. What was meant to protect the oppressed has morphed into protection of the oppressor thanks to years of unrelenting, industrial-scale lobbying. As we have seen time and again with environmental disasters, when there is a breakdown in responsibility, no one is held responsible and no one goes to jail.
The Buccaneer literature is like the campaign stuff we are now inundated with; long on promises but short on substance. What I think is one of the most important issues, which isn’t on Buccaneer’s radar screen, is the impact that the West Eagle drilling program will have on fish and wildlife.
While the impacts of the first well, which is in an existing gravel pit, should be minimal, additional drilling pads, roads, and pipelines might slice up the headwaters of the anadromous Anchor River and Deep Creek and the Caribou Hills moose pasture. This could not only impact fish and wildlife but displace a lot of local fishing and hunting opportunity.
If Buccaneer wants to do things right, the first thing they should do is throw out their arbitrary timelines. They need to take the time to see if this project can even be done right before making empty promises.