Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's that time again

So it's that time of year again, Operation Nanook is beginning in the North (see how they have that Royal thing going already in the press releases). Harper is heading up there next week.

One thing that doesn't seem to be discussed much in the Canadian coverage thus far that is framing the event is the prospect of oil drilling in the Arctic. There's a New York Times op-ed today arguing against it being permitted, specifically against the Obama administration's decision to allow Shell to drill four exploratory wells in the Beaufort Sea as early as next summer. The Beaufort Sea, as a reminder, is off the north coast of Alaska and is a sea shared by us. The Times op-ed points out the difficulties of conducting drilling in the Arctic and the perils if a spill happens there, mostly due to weather and remoteness and lack of resources to deal with it.

The lack of resources on the Canadian side (search & rescue aircraft, drones, icebreakers, transports, Coast Guard year-round presence, for e.g.) are pointed out in the latter half of this Gazette piece today. Environment Canada cuts will also be affecting the North, pointed out here.

A few things to think about as Harper visits next week and the focus tends to be on all things military. Apparently there's going to be a simulated rescue of a grounded cruise ship and a downed plane. We'll see if there's any word on improving northern resources or planning for other possible disasters.