Oil, Gas, and the Relentless Decline of Community – andrea bennett – Mahler and Freud Meet in Leiden I:I:4


andrea bennett (as seen on Twitter)

andrea bennett’s poem You can put your fingers on the feelings appeared in the same Canadian Literature 216 issue as my poem Chrysoglott. I am reminded of this coincidence after reading her article Boom, in the March 2015 issue of The Walrus, on oil and gas in Fort Nelson in northern British Columbia.

In the last three years I have moved 180 degrees from supporting the oil and gas industry as an economic benefit to a perspective that that industry is destructive of the environment we fully rely on and senseless as a means of sustaining a sound economy. Much of this change of this point of view derives from the following:

  • journeying to Fort McMurray to be able to see for myself the nature of oilsands extraction

    Syncrude Plant, Fort McMurray 13 May 2011 (Photo: Hendrik Slegtenhorst)

    Syncrude Plant, Fort McMurray 13 May 2011 (Photo: Hendrik Slegtenhorst)

  • the increasing recognition that the Athabasca River I once lived beside on a pristine quarter section of land is being destroyed
  • the irresponsible politics, which benefit foreign corporations and short-change the citizens who own the resource, of Conservative governments in Alberta over the last several decades
  • the support of these politics by a Conservative federal government that values corporate capitalism and unrestrained power above the development of a progressive society and the traditions and checks and balances of Parliamentary democracy
  • the destruction of the Canadian northland and the weakening of its communities by the employment, political and corporate, of fracking and other wasteful technologies
  • the unconscionable Kinder Morgan, and its fiasco on Burnaby Mountain, British Columbia
Syncrude Mines, Fort McMurray, 13 May 2011 (Photo: Hendrik Slegtenhorst)

Syncrude Mines, Fort McMurray, 13 May 2011 (Photo: Hendrik Slegtenhorst)

andrea bennett’s article deals with how the gas industry has not transfigured but has despoiled the community of Fort Nelson—and any discussion or debate about the industry’s impact. Fort Nelson, a community of about 4,000 people in the far northeast of British Columbia, was established in 1805 as a fur trading post. It was the original Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway, and during World War II was an important base for both the United States Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force. In recent years it has been substantively transformed by unconventional gas exploration, now Fort Nelson’s primary industry.

bennett resides in Vancouver, and writes poetry as well as prose. The last stanza of her work in Canadian Literature contains the line:

Press a feeling and the lid of the garbage can may click open as if its foot had been depressed.

My poem, Chrysoglott, from my manuscript Mahler and Freud Meet in Leiden, in the same issue, has this:

little Bardolino plays on the lunar palate / And readies the receptacle for the halls of power.

I wrote my lines in Fredericton, where I was conducting business with the provincial government, but both my observation and bennett’s treat a similar subject. Read her article.

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