Doesn’t matter which side of the fence you sit on this one – Canada owns a pipeline. The upside is it’s making money, just under a 5 percent rate of return, and ALL of those proceeds are earmarked for green initiatives.
Here’s the practical common sense – it’s about safety. Everyday we have trains and trucks rattling through our downtowns filled with oil products destined for the coast. The research is clear, trucks and trains are far less safe than pipelines. A few years ago I watched a train back up in the Cranbrook yard and completely derail, a block from downtown. We are gambling for another Lac-Megantic rail disaster.
The irony is the pipeline has a much smaller ecological footprint than rail and truck transport. By forcing the oil and gas sector to use truck and rail, we are creating a worse environmental situation.
Oil is not going away tomorrow. There are deep concerns about the rising energy demands from the emerging world. We, frankly, don’t make enough green energy to meet their demand. While we work furiously to grow green energy, it makes sense to export our highly regulated Canadian products, produced to the highest environmental standards. The other options are letting Russia and Saudi Arabia supply the demand, and they don’t have the same passion, respect or concern for our environment.
Absolutely, we need to build the infrastructure for Green. We need to move ahead with protecting our world by reducing carbon. But we need a strategy and the money to transition. The pipeline is part of that strategy.
We should note the pipeline was the bone given to the Alberta government for signing on to meet the Paris Accord emissions. Without Alberta on board, Canada doesn’t have a chance of meeting our obligations.
The oil and gas sector make up about 20 percent of our Canadian exports. That’s huge! Canada is the world’s fifth largest producer of oil and gas. The industry employs over 900,000 Canadians. Here’s the rub – we have some of the world’s strictest environmental regulation. Our carbon emissions are being addressed (a 40-45 percent reduction by 2025). We are leading edge in new technology, green technology, to extract and transport the oil products.
And we have only one pipeline to get our product to markets other than American. So the Americans have almost complete control over our product prices, and they have driven them well below market level. The rail lobby and foreign oil producing countries do not want to see our more environmentally friendly derived Canadian exports on the world market.
My brother started off as a millwright on the pipelines in Alberta. He is now working at the Carbon Capture plant in Squamish where they are pulling carbon out of the air. And who are the major investors? Oil and gas. This is the leading edge of where our energy sector is moving. They see the writing on the wall and are taking our carbon problem head on. We can transition. We will transition. It just needs time.
If I could turn off our carbon footprint tomorrow I would. But the practical reality is we can’t. The economic problem is call energy demand. But we can work on it. I hear the urgency and the passion. Let’s implement all we can within fiscal possibility to work toward meeting that energy demand with Green. Let’s also address the transportation safety and concerns of those who earn a living in oil and gas.