By Lethbridge Herald on August 3, 2018.
Thousands of Alberta bumper stickers state what so many Albertans pray on a daily basis: “please God, give us another oil boom, we promise not to piss it away this time.” Although this bumper sticker causes most people to chuckle, it’s much more than a funny quip. It communicates an urgent need.
Why does Canada need pipelines? You’ve heard it said that the development of the oil and gas sector results in job creation. True! But there is much more to the story.
Canada needs pipelines because we are competing with countries around the world to be the first to find a buyer for our product. Without pipelines this process is significantly thwarted.
Pipelines are the most environmentally responsible way to transport our commodity to market and generate revenue, which results in provincial and federal tax dollars. Those tax dollars are what pay for the hospitals we visit when a loved one is ill, the schools our children attend, and the roads on which we drive.
Oil and gas development have created high-quality, good-paying jobs for Canadians from coast to coast. Much of the prosperity Alberta enjoyed in the 1990s and early 2000s was because we responsibly developed our natural resources.
We need the Trans Mountain pipeline built now.
It will be better for those who depend on the oil and gas sector for employment, better for the environment, better for our farmers, and better for every Albertan who drives, attends school or needs a hospital.
There are only two methods for shipping large quantities of oil across the country: trains or pipelines. It not only costs more to ship oil by train, but it’s also more dangerous than using pipelines. The odds of a train spilling oil vs. a pipeline leaking are 4-1. However, due to inadequate pipeline supply, the use of trains to transport oil has skyrocketed.
Despite the fact that the Trans Mountain pipeline received government approval in 2016, Kinder Morgan, the company building the pipeline, announced that it couldn’t proceed with construction this spring. This decision was reached due to growing uncertainty as the company faced onerous regulatory burdens placed on them by the federal government, interference from protesters and the resistance of the B.C. government.
As a result, you and I now own a pipeline. That’s right; on May 29 the Liberal government used your money to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline in its existing state for $4.5 billion. The construction costs for the much-needed expansion are estimated to be another $7.5 billion.
But it didn’t need to be this way.
Justin Trudeau would have Canadians believe that the only way to build the Trans Mountain pipeline is to use billions of taxpayer dollars, but it’s not true. Four pipelines were built under the previous government without spending a single dollar of taxpayers’ money.
In April, Kinder Morgan asked the federal government to provide them with certainty that the project would be allowed to move forward and their money wouldn’t be wasted.
Within Canada’s Constitution, the federal government has the ability to formally declare a project in the nation’s best interest, and thereby offer certainty that the project will get done regardless of protesters and provincial barriers. Had the Liberal government acted in this accord it would have offered Kinder Morgan the certainty they needed to invest billions of dollars and provide tens of thousands of jobs.
Furthermore, the federal government could have taken action to close loopholes in our financial laws that allow American lobby groups, like the Tide Foundation, to grant tens of millions of dollars to anti-pipeline organizations in Canada.
And the federal government could have requested the Supreme Court to rule now on the issue of jurisdiction, instead of waiting for British Columbia’s legal challenge to spend years working its way through the courts.
None of these actions were taken.
As a result, businesses within the private sector now doubt whether Canada respects the rule of law, which is scaring off investors. They’re asking: “what’s the point of going through the approval process if you get approved (which Kinder Morgan did) but the federal government doesn’t defend you when a premier and anti-pipeline activists voice their disproval.
The question now is whether or not the federal government has the will to ensure the pipeline expansion gets built.
Construction was supposed to begin in 2017, with oil flowing by December 2019. However, for the next six months, the only work outside of the terminal in B.C. will be land surveying. This means no construction will take place this summer.
The project is already a year behind schedule. Every month of delay results in job losses for Canadians, increases the possibility of an oil spill due to a train derailing, drives up the final cost of construction and deprives all Canadians of important infrastructure projects, including schools, hospitals, roads and bridges.
There are two main ways the government can generate revenue: tax the people or enable natural resource development. If you like paying taxes, kudos to you.
If you prefer to keep the money for which you worked, I encourage you to write the Minister of Natural Resources, Amarjeet Sohi, and urge him to get the Kinder Morgan pipeline built: Amarjeet.Sohi@parl.gc.ca
Rachael Harder is the Conservative MP for Lethbridge. Her column appears monthly.