Monday, March 19, 2018

A Modest Proposal - A Way Forward for the Kinder Morgan Pipeline?

Most British Columbians oppose the Notley/Trudeau/Big Tar Kinder Morgan pipeline.

We oppose it because of the devastating environmental harm that can be caused by pipeline ruptures and, yes, the record on that score speaks loud and clear.

We oppose it primarily because of the threat to our coastline of severe and lasting environmental calamity when, not if but when, we are hit by a supertanker sinking. This is a threat of decadal, even generational duration.

We oppose it because dilbit, diluted bitumen, is laced with hazardous, hazmat, materials from carcinogens and acids, to pet coke, to various toxins and heavy metals, really persistent stuff that can contaminate our coastal waters perhaps for generations.

We oppose it because no one - not the pipeline companies, not the energy companies, not the province of Alberta and, especially, not the federal government, none of them - has demonstrated that a dilbit spill from a sunken supertanker can and will be effectively cleaned up.  To the contrary, they have admitted they cannot by approving the highly toxic product Corexit as an "oil dispersant" when it really operates to sink oil to the seabed rather than disperse it.

We oppose it because, contrary to the law of Canada, the precautionary principle has not been met. This principle, upheld by the Federal Court of Canada and the Supreme Court of Canada, holds that, when an objection is taken to an apparently hazardous environmental threat, the burden falls on those wishing to pursue those measures to show that it is safe. They have never met this burden. They have never attempted to meet this burden. They have no intention of ever attempting to meet the burden imposed on them.

We oppose it for its pointlessness. It will do no good. Unlike Norway, which has amassed the world's largest sovereign wealth fund from oil production considerably less than Alberta's, Alberta has instead chosen, as that province's favourite bumper sticker notes, to simply "piss it all away." That's the story of Alberta, massive oil wealth simply pissed away.

We oppose it because this high cost, high carbon bitumen, the filthiest ersatz oil on the planet, will be burned somewhere, will create massive greenhouse gas emissions somewhere, and, as the top scientists from around the world have warned, will prevent the world from ever reaching its Paris Climate Accord target of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We have been put on notice, this will wreck our climate.

We oppose it because its sponsors, Trudeau and Notley, are so insistently pushing this pipeline not for the good of the planet, not for the good of British Columbia, but in their own partisan political interests. They're selling us out for their political advantage. They are petro-pols, we are petro-pawns denied a voice in the "national interest."

Yet, in the spirit of compromise, there are steps that can be taken to ameliorate our objections.

First let's stop the lying. Trudeau says they've "done the science." They haven't. The Royal Society says it hasn't been done. Environment Canada says it hasn't been done. David Shindler, the University of Alberta's world renowned ecologist says it hasn't been done.

Do the science. Do the research. Do it openly, transparently. Show us how safe it is. Prove it. Don't expect us to take Trudeau's word. His word means nothing. And if the pro-pipeline's plans aren't safe we'll know what they need to do to make it safe.

If you can find a way to do this safely, put every measure necessary for that purpose in place before that expanded pipeline goes into operation. We've seen how Notley and her predecessors have done with those inland lakes, the tailing ponds of Athabasca, visible to the naked eye from space. They've once again allowed the bitumen producers to put that on the "never, never" tab and will doubtless be left holding the bag when the bitumen market goes bust. No more "never, never."

Alberta must agree to take responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions associated with bitumen. Not just the extraction and transportation associated with dilbit but the emissions from foreign refining, including the secondary burning of pet coke, the highest carbon coal on the planet.

Alberta should give British Columbia control of half and, for Ottawa, all royalties from the bitumen trade to be used, not on behalf of BC, but on behalf of Alberta and Canada. Let the province bearing the risk prescribe how that money shall be used for environmental purposes both within Alberta and across Canada. Once Alberta and Ottawa get those revenues into their general treasury, they're gone and the problems associated with those activities will be kicked down the road for future governments and future generations of Albertans and Canadians to confront.

Trudeau tells us that this bitumen trafficking is the key to a greener future for Canada. Not only is that wildly counter-intuitive but he's never even suggested a link between bitumen royalties and meaningful, effective action on climate change adaptation and remediation. This disconnect is Trudeau's way of saying, I'm lying right into your face - again. He's pulling this right out of his ass.

So, yeah. It won't be our money. We won't get to keep the money. We'll just manage it to help achieve that greener future for Alberta and for Canada that Trudeau keeps harping about. We will allocate all that money to those very purposes.  Because if we don't do it, it will never be done.

So let's get those researchers hired. Let's build their laboratories. Let's get this ball rolling. Eh, Justin? Eh, Rachel?


rumleyfips said...

Why shouldn't BC get fair transit fees. Alberta has said before that the money is all theirs and BC doesn't deserve any. That sort of arrogant greed turned me off.

Jay Farquharson said...

#4, Kinder Morgan has to continue to ship Southern Alberta oil to the existing BC refineries, up until those refineries no longer want it.

the salamander said...

.. what is southern Alberta oil ?
Does it have a name & grade ?
Where does it come from ? Drilled wells
Surely Jay does not mean dilbit

Jay Farquharson said...

Alberta Heavy, it's actually oil, not a great oil, but it's not Tar Sands.

There are 3 LML Refineries supporting 600 full time, Union, good paying jobs that refine it, and 3 Washington State refineries as well. Almost all of the oil products are used locally, from YVR to the entire Coast, ranging from gas and diesel, through solvents, lubricants, heating oil and bunker fuel for ships.

It's what currently flows through the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline, but The Plan is to switch that one over to Dilbit as well, with out any testing to see if the line can handle the more viscous, abrasive and explosive dilbit.