By Vonda G. Cosgrove
Who would have thought the Southeast corner of Alberta would be obliterated by Environmental Canada using the Sage Grouse as its bomb. This time the community will not survive. We pulled through when our community school was taken away and deal with our children being bussed up to 2 hours every school day.The community was bypassed on repairs on a deadly highway, which has claimed many lives, but meanwhile our children are still being bussed on. Why do we stay and WANT to live here? Because it’s our home and has been for generations and should remain so. To us this barren land has its own beauty that we cherish and do not mistreat. The ranchers and farmers tend this land respectfully because it cannot be abused if they want the grass for their cows and a profitable crop for the next years. The oilfield is run with the strictest regulations in the world. We need people living, working and caring for this land to put out our many lightning fires and redirect flooding. This area has supported the livelihood of many (not just its residents) by farming, ranching, oilfield construction and operating, our historic bar/hotel, retirees’ and so much more. The closure of this area will not just affect its residents but many surrounding communities and businesses. Economically I hope people will realize what this could mean for Alberta. An Environment Canada representative openly made his statement that this is just the beginning. They are going for all oilfield related areas using whatever animal as their bomb to stop the oil industry. When asked what about the people and their livelihoods? That answer was, there is no concern about the people. So really, is this about the Sage Grouse or just a way of getting their foot in the door so they can shut down oilfield areas? What burns me most is that this bird is not being threatened by extinction; its downfall was the Environmentalists themselves. The states of Montana and Wyoming have hundreds of thousands of these birds and with their research findings to keep the birds populated: leave them alone. The exact opposite of what Canada did. Now they point their fingers at everyone else and blame them. When an oilfield operator witnessed a group of sage grouse doing their mating dance by an oil pump jack, I don’t have to think hard on who or what the birds’ demise was. They are not afraid of noise, regular traffic, or cows, obviously, but hate people bugging them. If I were a sage grouse I would leave too if I had someone put a collar on my neck, uproot my nest, mess with my eggs and follow my every move. Fighting the elements and fearing so many predators (especially the Kit Fox reintroduced by environmentalists) would also make my fly away.
People have got to realize this is not just OUR loss or OUR problem. The oil company LGX and The City of Medicine Hat will have a devastating loss of revenue and substantial debt. Our beef and crop market will also take a huge hit. Local businesses and workers and businesses from Medicine Hat, Foremost, Taber, Brooks, Lethbridge and many more will all be affected. The ranchers and farmers lands will become unusable and unsellable, otherwise worthless. Many may think this does not affect them but you would be very naïve in thinking so. One way or another you are affected.
Heed this warning to the owners and workers of Canadian Assoc. of Petro Producers, Canadian Assoc. of Oil Well Drilling Contractors, Shell, British Petro, Nexen, Encana, Husky, Penwest, CNRL, Suncore, Conaco Phillips, the Province of Saskatchewan and any landowner within the oilfield areas. When this Southeast corner is eventually closed down, they are coming for you! Maybe not today or tomorrow but very soon. They have started with the small and are going for the big guys. They have the power, self-righteousness and arrogance and have now tasted success by swallowing up Southeast Alberta. I have to stress, THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE SAGE GROUSE, it’s their way of getting their foot in the door to stop the oilfield industry and they do not care who gets in the way. Unfortunately it’s our ranchers and farmers who are in the way.
This threat is real and costly. If no one helps and stands up for this community, do not ever complain about paying $20 for a pound of hamburger, $10 for a loaf of bread, unable to afford your heating bill or fill up your car to get you to work and most of your food coming from China when it could have come from your own backyard. When people lose their jobs, homes and have to move or travel long distances for work, do not complain because we will already be down that road. Alberta has sustained almost all of the other provinces. Canada will be bankrupt in less than a week if the oil taps are shut off. No more payouts to the other provinces. No more funding for anyone. Ironically, we could not afford all of the environmental projects that we have already. They too will be out of work.
The environmentalists do not want to listen to the people that have lived here their whole lives and have seen these birds come and go. They, the environmentalists, are right and the only ones that are right so we have to obey to the science. Science has proven to be wrong many, many times. I was told in the beginning of this fiasco that common sense should kick in and all will work out fine but unfortunately people don’t use or listen to common sense anymore. They need to be told what to believe by people with authority and the loudest voice. Good old propaganda strategy. Just because a present has nice wrapping doesn’t make the gift of “manure” any prettier or less stinky. Our wrapping is the environmentalists and the manure has been dumped all over this community. We have no rights, no say and we need help. The proclamation of “possible extinction of the Sage Grouse” should be corrected with the truer statement of “A Community Facing
Extinction” and spoke much louder. Please yell!!