British Columbia has had a moratorium on oil & gas development since 1968 and now that there are efforts to lift the ban in the Province, Canadian officials are looking to the Cook Inlet as a model should the moratorium be removed.
Recently a 14-member delegation representing provincial and coastal communities, government officials, and First Nation leaders, visited the Kenai Peninsula on a fact-finding mission to study the results of oil & gas development in the Cook Inlet.
"We are on tour to understand the right way to do things, look at some of the problems that communities have had and if we decide that development can be done scientifically sound and environmentally safe then we can move ahead with tried and proven methods such as we have seen here in Alaska," said Bill Belsey, Member Legislative Assembly in B.C.
One thing that stood out to the visitors was the hospitality and enthusiasm for oil and gas development and what it has done for the community among the people that the delegation spoke with, "The ability of people of various interests to work together to understand concerns and to deal with environmental safety as well as revenues generated from the resource, has caused lights to come on in the eyes of many of our group traveling with the Province. It's made us aware of how development can be done and how it can be done right with sound science," said Belsey. He also commented in an interview that they had learned how important it is to have local community members be part of the decision making process, "The necessity to build trust and move down a path away from confrontation is very important regarding issues as important as the environment and the oceans around the west coast of British Columbia," added Belsey.
Borough Mayor Dale Bagley cooked up fresh Halibut, Salmon and burgers for the Canadian delegation at the Aspen Hotel in Soldotna.
While in Alaska the group toured Cook Inlet offshore development areas, the North Kenai industrial corridor, and met with the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Committee to learn about the committee's role in the post Exxon Valdez spill era. Borough Mayor Dale Bagley hosted the Canadian delegation to a "good neighbor" barbeque following their 3-day excursion of Peninsula and Inlet oil and gas facilities. "The Cook Inlet has over a 30 year history of successfully developing offshore oil & gas resources with no adverse impacts on our communities and the other important industries that rely on the Cook Inlet such as commercial fishing and tourism," said Bagley.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Oil & Gas Liaison Bill Popp noted "The B.C. delegation is looking to develop relationships with Cook Inlet oil & gas producers and support companies that could provide expertise needed to develop their resources if that development moves forward. This would be a great opportunity for Cook Inlet based support companies to look at new regions to export their expertise and develop relationships in those regions to expand their businesses," said Popp.
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