We sit back and be smug at our peril.
With the exception of housing and highways, things have been moving positively in southeastern Saskatchewan these past couple of years. The oil patch is busier than ever and recovery from devastating floods has provided us all with a new round of resolve.
A trio of huge projects measured in the tens of millions to over a billion dollars are underway, bringing fresh capital and spin-off economic activity to the region. But of course, we are only reiterating what everyone already knows.
What we might not be prepared for however, is the fact that the radical environmentalists are after us, claiming that clean coal can't work and we have no vision for the future. In their perfect world, coal would never be used to fuel the future and oil is on the hit list too, especially the oilsands variety.
Our natural tendency might be to sit back smugly and proclaim our clean coal and carbon dioxide sequestration projects are already well underway, so what are they going to do about it?
That could be a mistake.
We, as proponents of the clean coal projects and oilpatch industries, need to be vigilant and proactive. We need to push back on occasion and can do that with fact-based arguments and common sense.
We have scientific advantages here and we may need to use them to state the case as the greenhouse gas opponents come calling. We've seen evidence of their influence from a distance ... so far as they appear to have focused on oilsands and Alberta-based pipelines of late. But no doubt, they'll surface here once they detect an opening.
Now, not to misunderstand our stance.
We're firmly in agreement with green side arguments, as long as they don't get ridiculous and are tempered with reality.
Facts need to be confirmed because facts and statistics can be manipulated to enhance arguments on both sides of this coin. We offer one example.
Electricity and vehicles. Plug in cars and trucks work, but while their efficiencies are noted, their effectiveness is limited and if you are anxious to plug in rather than gas up your heavy hauler of the future, it will require a whole lot of additional electricity which will have to be manufactured ... where? And how? Will the 10-fold power demands all come from windmills and solar panels? Perhaps, but we doubt it. China currently controls over 90 per cent of the rare earth minerals required to build solar panels. How are we doing on that file? How do the radical environmentalists suggest we handle that one? Windmills in every backyard might prove more problematic than power lines.
Yes, geothermal and biomass production methods appear promising, but it doesn't seem as if the world is rushing toward them.
Then there are cost factors, and again coal, gas and oil are providing the realistic answers while moving steadily toward compliance with an emerging new world order in environmental standards ... attainable standards, not pie-in-sky varieties.
Right now we benefit from having the power of power on our side. We have the economic advantages, science and engineering on side. We just need to be assured that we also retain the power of the people who understand the reality of the situation.
We all want a greener, more responsible tomorrow and there are a variety of ways to get there and we feel that what is being pursued in this corner of the globe is the right one for now and for the immediate future.
We suggest that we must remain vigilant in assuring that the common sense message is heard.