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Mayor’s Column – September 20, 2017

September 20, 2017


In case you’ve been wondering… On September 7 and 8 I had the pleasure of representing Chetwynd at the annual Coal and Energy Conference (Energy Through Synergy) held in Tumbler Ridge. (Next year Chetwynd is committed to hosting.) I also had fun while representing you, which seems to indicate that we of Chetwynd know how to have fun. No, I didn’t do the golfing option.

But I also learned a few items of trivia while preparing for my stints at the podium. You really want to know this one: Every 100 truckloads of coal that passed through our home town for the past months was enough to keep North America in fingernail clippers. You read that correctly. It takes 100 truckloads of metallurgical coal to manufacture the fingernail clippers that we North Americans carry around in our purses, pockets, and loose in hotel rooms. That’s right: 100.

It takes 30 loads to make the steel for nine windmill towers. If you carry around a ton of steel in your little red car, every load through Chetwynd carried enough met coal to replicate your little car 60 times.

One conclusion: If we want to keep ourselves out of barbarism, we need to keep digging up met coal and hauling it to the steel mills. (Can you imagine living without fingernail clippers? How about doing without the green energy from windmills?)

So much for the trivia. Represented at Energy Through Synergy were wind power, gas, oil, coal, and biofuels. There is a common element linking all these industries. Of course there must be more than one commonality but the one that you probably won’t guess is met coal. That’s correct. Met coal makes up 50% of the steel used in everything from wind towers to rail lines, truck frames, drill stems, gears for conveyor chains, fingernail clippers, scissors, saw blades, and shotgun barrels. It seems like we just can’t get away from metallurgical coal if we intend to maintain our modern way of life.

Oh yes, it is also a component of the frames of the busses that carry protesters to the rendezvous. Mining has been with us for at least 4000 years and it seems to be here to stay indefinitely.

I heard the Mayor of Tumbler Ridge: “When mining was strong people complained of the coal dust. Then they had no dust to trouble them.”

That’s typical of us human creatures. But it’s okay to laugh at ourselves. If we can laugh at ourselves we will have the energy to find ways to limit the dust emitted from the mining processes. And I think we have come a long way on the road to mitigating most of the unpleasant aspects of the mining industry – and of all industries.

Some facts of the matter are these: we have come a long way during the last 150 years up the road towards cleaner, more liveable communities. No longer do we deliver our goods, services, and passengers by horse-drawn conveyances (and you know what horses do in the streets). No longer do we throw our slops into the byways. No longer do we allow resource industries to simply start digging, drilling, slashing, burning. Furthermore, we have laws prohibiting disposal of garbage out the car window. Sadly, not everyone is law abiding. So the rest of us actually clean up after them.

Oh, by the way, in case you’ve been wondering… The law in its majestic equality forbids the rich as well as the poor from stealing bread, sleeping on park benches, and begging in the street.


Merlin Nichols, Mayor