On the cusp of the next Trans Mountain decision

2019-06-17

in Canada, Economics, Politics, The environment

Canadian politics has an unhealthy fixation on the profits associated with fossil fuel production and use. It’s the threat of losing those that is always evoked by pro-fossil interests when they are asserting that this or that piece of new fossil fuel infrastructure (this pipeline, that bitumen mine or in situ extraction project) needs to be built.

This analysis of course misses the climatic impacts on third parties. Oil advocates want to think of the transaction as just a happy buyer and a happy seller, ignoring the people losing their homes, financial security, and even their lives because the climatic stability that we have depended on for millennia is being disrupted and destabilized by fossil fuel use. These risks aren’t notional or set in the future, but happening now as this CBC article illustrates: ‘It’s a problem for society’: Climate change is making some homes uninsurable.

Tomorrow the Trudeau government is expected to announce the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion into B.C. Whether it is later stopped by public protest, the courts, or other means or not, I think it will cement the view that rather than trying to seek a sensible compromise the Trudeau Liberals chose a fundamentally incoherent strategy. It makes no sense to try to gently decrease economy-wide oil demand with a carbon price as a route to decarbonization while simultaneously approving projects that would only have a viable role in a future where we choose to ignore climate change. If we end up with an Andrew Scheer Conservative government it will be even worse, both for a fossil fuel industry which misunderstands the fundamental problem it is facing and to Canada’s economy as a whole, but that’s not necessarily enough to save Trudeau, especially while Canada’s relatively pro-decarbonization left is fragmented into support for Greens, the NDP, and Liberals.

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. June 17, 2019 at 2:22 pm

Trans Mountain: Elizabeth May and David Suzuki Raise Concerns

In a news conference on Parliament Hill, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, environmentalist David Suzuki, and Green Party MP Paul Manly outline their opposition to the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline. The Trudeau government is expected to reach a final decision on the pipeline by June 18.

Cabinet originally approved the expansion in 2016 but a federal court ruling overturned that decision in August 2018, citing inadequate environmental reviews and the need for further consultation with Indigenous communities. Meanwhile, in May 2018, with the future of the expansion in doubt, the federal government announced that it would purchase the project from Kinder Morgan Canada for $4.5 billion.

. June 17, 2019 at 2:24 pm
. June 18, 2019 at 12:59 am

“Unlike the federal government, Tsleil-Waututh updated our economic analysis since the Federal Court of Appeal decision, and it demonstrates the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is uneconomic. Our independent cost/benefit analysis of the project, consistent with Ottawa’s benefit/cost guidelines, found the government-owned Trans Mountain Expansion Project results in a loss to Canadian taxpayers of $11.8-billion, and that there is no likely scenario under which the project would generate a net benefit to Canada.

This is because the economic landscape has changed substantially since the NEB issued its first report regarding the project in 2016. Recently, the Bank of Canada issued a financial system review that warned about stranded assets in the oil and gas sector due to climate-related risk.

Our analysis confirms that the pipeline is not in the public interest, nor can it justify the economic burdens the pipeline would pose. We have shared this information with the federal government, who continue to rely on outdated economic information.”

. June 18, 2019 at 1:03 am

My thoughts on the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion

Jody Wilson-Raybould

Here is what I expect to happen tomorrow. The government will say further court-ordered consultations with Indigenous peoples have taken place, and that the effects on the marine environment have been addressed. And having done this work, and imposed further conditions, the project is, once again, approved. The immediate response to this decision will be the filing of multiple lawsuits against the government’s decisions. And being truthful, if the past is any precedent – and in no way condoning or encouraging the breaking of the law – there will be a rapid mobilization of on the ground conflict that will foster cycles of tensions. As a result, Canadians will be further divided. While there will be photo-ops and talk of “getting shovels in the ground”, no one will be able to say with certainty when – or if – actual pipe will be laid and if any product will ever flow through it.

Given this unfortunate reality, a better approach, in my view, is to acknowledge the broken context, and not proceed with TMX at this time. This approach requires leadership, collaboration and commitment along with bold and concrete plans that actually reset the direction of our energy future in a way Canadians can trust and get behind – from coast-to-coast-to-coast. What are your thoughts?

. June 18, 2019 at 9:34 am

What to watch for in today’s cabinet decision on the TMX pipeline project

Fate of project rests with Liberal cabinet — but 30% of needed pipe has already been delivered

. June 26, 2019 at 7:52 pm

Indigenous chiefs blast Ottawa’s Trans Mountain consultation efforts ahead of key regulatory decision

The Indigenous claims come as the National Energy Board prepares for a decision on whether it will reinstate the project after July 9, when a comment period ends

. June 28, 2019 at 8:40 am

Alberta and B.C. put on positive front amid Trans Mountain spat, but remain fundamentally divided

B.C. Premier John Horgan said while he remained firmly opposed to the pipeline expansion, his government has been issuing the necessary construction permits

. July 2, 2019 at 8:32 pm

Indigenous-led group eyes majority stake in Trans Mountain

$6.9B bid from Reconciliation Project expected this week or next

. July 11, 2019 at 8:38 pm

First Nations launch new court challenge to Trans Mountain pipeline

‘We have not seen any significant difference in the consultation process and in some ways it was worse’

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