It seems to be very fashionable these days for folks to be opposed to all kinds of things, from pipelines to coal exports to extracting natural gas.
But how realistic is it to think that shutting down all these things won't have a negative impact on the economy? Do the same folks waving banners at rallies and shouting rhyming chants really think their standard of living won't be affected if all kinds of industrial development simply disappear?
I know some people think it's unfair to point out that many people who demand the oil or coal industries cease to exist rely on those same industries in their daily lives. These same people demand that there be more rapid transit lines instead of more automobiles, and proudly ride a bicycle instead of the car.
But they don't seem to realize - or simply choose not to - that coal is used to make steel, which in turn builds those rapid transit lines and those bikes (and wind turbines, and hybrid vehicles and all kinds of "green" alternatives).
Unfortunately, the current debate over some of these controversial projects lacks coherence and a recognition that there are very real consequences to saying "no" to everything.
The question is, will the debate start becoming informed?
The Kinder Morgan pipeline may prove to be the starting point. The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline seems to be dead, as the environmental movement has effectively mobilized against it.
But the Kinder Morgan project is fundamentally different, and may spark a more reasoned conversation. The big difference, of course, is that there is already an existing pipeline along the proposed route and oil tankers have been filling up at the Burnaby refinery and plying the waters of Burrard Inlet and the Strait of Georgia for decades.
That's a lot different than building a pipeline through untouched pristine wilderness, and sending tankers through waters they've never travelled.
After all, Vancouver's harbour is a working harbour, with ships everywhere and small pools of oil visible all over the place.
The debate on the Kinder Morgan project is really just getting started. I suspect it will lack the emotions attached to the Northern Gateway pipeline, and the environmental movement will have a harder time marshalling widespread opposition to it.
Nevertheless, there will be opposition. Some local mayors - notably Burnaby's Derek Corrigan and Vancouver's Gregor Robertson - are adamantly against it, as are some First Nations (who seem to have a de facto veto over industrial development anyways, courtesy of certain court rulings).
And it will be fascinating to see how the NDP, should it win the election this May, handles this issue. The party was quick to denounce the Northern Gateway pipeline, which was taking a position that reflected a majority of public opinion.
But the Kinder Morgan project is a more sensitive one for the party, since its activist members no doubt oppose it but to last more than one term in government it must ensure it's not seen as anti-business.
The New Democrats also have to be wary of joining with the anti-fracking crowd, since any moratorium on the controversial practice will have a dramatic and negative impact on government revenues.
So it's easy to say "no" all the time to all kinds of controversial developments. But whichever party wins the next election, it will find itself forced to say "yes" to a few of them.
Protest rallies and demonstrations are easy to pull off. Governing without enough money coming in is not.
Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global BC.
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