B.C.’s latest move against the Kinder Morgan pipeline

When it comes to stopping unsustainable fossil fuel development, anything that creates investor uncertainty can be useful. By that metric, the British Columbia government’s announcement of a diluted bitumen shipment expansion moratorium while it studies how a diluted bitumen spill would unfold is a small contribution to shifting Canada to an acceptable development pathway.

Still, I wish governments would look squarely at the real problem: the fundamental contradiction between continued fossil fuel exploitation and the climatic stability objectives that states including Canada asserted in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, and in their own climate announcements. Making it all about local issues may be politics as usual, but it misses the main ethical issues at play.

14 thoughts on “B.C.’s latest move against the Kinder Morgan pipeline”

  1. I was happy to hear the news on CBC Radio this morning. It seems that Alberta will fight it tooth and nail.

  2. That’s part of why I worry about this being couched in terms of spill risk.

    Stopping bitumen sands development (and beginning to shut down what exists already) isn’t a Not In My Back Yard issue. It’s a Not On Planet Earth issue.

  3. Notley blasts B.C. over Trans Mountain: There will be consequences

    EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says there will be consequences for British Columbia over the province’s latest attempt to hinder expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain oil pipeline.

    Notley held an emergency cabinet meeting Wednesday to discuss what legal and economic levers Alberta can pull in its spat with its neighbour to the west.

    “The government of Alberta will not — we cannot — let this unconstitutional attack on jobs and working people stand,” she said before the closed-door meeting.

    “I’ve called you all together today at this emergency meeting to discuss and evaluate the range of economic and legal options that are available to us including, for example, interprovincial trade in electricity.”

    “That pipeline is going to get built,” says Trudeau

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising a pipeline will be built.

    His comments were made in an interview with 630 CHED’s Kelsey Campbell on the Ryan Jespersen Show in Edmonton Thursday morning, and come after a war of words between B.C. and Alberta over the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

    “We were assured, and we did the science and we did the research, the Kinder Morgan pipeline is not a danger to the B.C. coast. Particularly not, given the billions of dollars that we’ve invested in the Oceans Protection Plan,” said Trudeau.

    “And that pipeline is going to get built. We will stand by our decision, we will ensure that the Kinder Morgan pipeline gets built.”

  4. First Nations launching call for mass demonstration to protest Trans Mountain

    On Tuesday, the Tsleil Waututh will put out a call to allied nations and supporters of environmental organization, with organizers saying their network will reach some 200,000 Canadians.

    The planned pipeline expansion has sparked an interprovincial battle between the British Columbia government, which opposes the project, and Alberta, which argues its oil industry desperately needs access to Pacific Rim markets in order to receive world prices for its crude.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Nanaimo, B.C., last week defending his government’s decision to approve the project that he insists is in the national interest, while pledging to protect the coast from risks of a spill because of increased tanker traffic.

  5. Martyn Brown: Justin Trudeau declares war on British Columbia

    “That pipeline is going to get built,” Justin Trudeau has declared on Edmonton’s CHED radio.

    “We will stand by our decision. We will ensure that the Kinder Morgan pipeline gets built.”

    With that, Canada’s prime minister has declared war on British Columbia’s efforts to stop that widely unwanted project, which our provincial government has taken new actions to frustrate, further to its other announced and ongoing efforts.

    In pandering to the all-powerful interests of Big Oil—and to the voters of Alberta—yet another Trudeau has given British Columbians the finger.

    It is an appalling political intervention, aimed at placating the increasingly antsy shareholders of Kinder Morgan and the other wealthy purveyors of dirty fossil fuels, whose industry is choking our planet and threatening our oceans.

    “We can’t be simply trapped in the American market and that’s why getting this pipeline built, which has been waited for a long time, is something that this government is serious about,” Trudeau brayed. The environment, Aboriginal rights and title, and B.C.’s coastal communities be damned.

  6. The war is being fought at a political level now. Kinder Morgan isn’t likely to start building until outstanding court cases are resolved and interprovincial disputes ironed out. No one knows for sure how long that will take. But if construction does go ahead, things could get ugly, fast.

    “I think people have to know this could be violent,” Mr. Stewart says. “I have talked to First Nations whose nine reserves the pipeline will go through. They’ve told me that without consent, there is nine Okas right there.

    Of course, we all remember the 1990, 78-day standoff between Mohawks and the people of Oka, Que., which resulted in one fatality. Imagining that the protests around Trans Mountain will result in similar anger and frustration is not difficult.

  7. Federal government won’t let B.C. delay Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

    The federal government will not allow British Columbia to “stall or stop” the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr told the House of Commons on Monday.

    Mr. Carr criticized a Conservative Party motion that called on the government to use “all tools available” to ensure the pipeline gets completed, arguing the opposition was attempting “to manufacture a crisis where one does not exist.”

    Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs put forward the motion that called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to lay out a plan as to how Ottawa intends to establish certainty for the project that has become the focus of an interprovincial battle between B.C. and Alberta.

  8. EXCLUSIVE: Trudeau says Kinder Morgan ‘was always a trade off’

    Delivering pointed arguments in favour of a plan he said would eventually wean Canada off its dependence on fossil fuels, Trudeau said his government is also providing tools to accommodate First Nations affected by the west coast oil pipeline expansion project.

    Trudeau saw pipeline as part package in 2015
    Speaking from his office on Parliament Hill, Trudeau confirmed that expanding market access for the oilsands industry through a project like Trans Mountain was “part of the equation” on climate change as early as 2015.

    At that time, his government was pushing for ambitious global targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at international negotiations in Paris. Trudeau was also relying on action from Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government in Alberta that pledged to put a price on pollution and cap emissions from the oilsands.

    The action, he revealed, “was linked” with approval of the Trans Mountain project.

    “So in order to get the national climate change plan — to get Alberta to be part of it, and we need Alberta to be part of it — we agreed to twin an existing pipeline in order to get to work,” he explained.

    “It was always a question of, if we could move forward responsibly on the Kinder Morgan pipeline, then Alberta would be able to be as ambitious as we needed Alberta to be and get on with the national climate change plan… Yes, they were linked to each other.”

    Trudeau said the Trans Mountain expansion “was always a trade off” for Notley’s unprecedented climate action. That certainty and support, he added, put Canada on a pathway to achieve its Paris climate change targets and is part of the economic and environmental package that makes the pipeline so important.

  9. Elizabeth May: Is the pipeline really in our best interests?

    The term “national interest” is showered around the Kinder Morgan pipeline like confetti. It is received wisdom that it must be so; everyone says it is so. On that fact hinges the outrage against a B.C. government that has the audacity to represent its citizens’ interests.

    So “national interest,” according to the NEB, does not include energy security, net employment benefits, environment, climate, GDP or anything other than getting the pipeline approved.

  10. Why Canada’s climate plan can’t be traded for Kinder Morgan

    There are no easy political solutions, but on climate and pipelines the math is clear

    It might seem a bit much to call Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley climate deniers. Both believe in climate change, and they believe that we have to take action on it. But if climate denial is the act of denying the implications of the hard, immutable facts of climate science, they fit the bill.

    The Alberta climate plan, a 2015 piece of policy that Trudeau has called the linchpin of Canada’s climate action, was a great first step for the province. But it’s a first step from a province that spent the better part of the past four decades denying climate change and working hand in hand with Big Oil to derail action on the issue, so it’s far from a complete departure from business as usual.

    While the Alberta plan does place a cap on tar sands emissions, that cap is far too high. On paper, it allows for a nearly 50 per cent increase in emissions from tar sands production alone. This from Canada’s fastest growing source of emissions, the main reason we’re nowhere near on track to hitting our 2020 and 2030 climate targets.

    And that’s assuming the cap is actually enforced. Right now, the governments of Canada and Alberta are reviewing the Teck Frontier project, the largest open-pit tar sands mine ever proposed, big enough to blow that cap. On top of that is a suite of exemptions built into Alberta’s emissions cap that make it look less like a hard climate policy and more like window dressing on production growth for Canada’s biggest polluters.

  11. Trudeau’s Orwellian logic: We reduce emissions by increasing them

    Orwell would not need energy expertise to know that emission increases from major industries cannot occur if a prime minister is to keep his promise. Yet all three, and now Mr. Trudeau, have countenanced Alberta’s oil sands expansion, the single biggest reason for missing targets. With oil output growing from one million barrels per day in 2005 to 2.5 million barrels in 2015, Alberta’s contribution to Canada’s emissions increased from 230 to 270 megatonnes of carbon dioxide. And Alberta’s emissions will reach 290 megatonnes by 2030 if projects like Trans Mountain are completed. National studies by independent researchers (including my university-based group) consistently show that Mr. Trudeau’s 2015 Paris promise of a 30-per-cent reduction by 2030 is unachievable with oil sands expansion. His staff know this, so he knows it, too.

    Mr. Trudeau and his advisers know that it makes no sense, indeed is economically and socially irresponsible, to build a pipeline today for expanded production that should not occur if we are to prevent devastating climate change. Fostering increased oil sands jobs in Alberta is inconsistent with global climate goals.

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