Thursday, June 07, 2018
Rising to the Defence of Justin Trudeau
Coming from one who so freely and relentlessly criticizes Justin Trudeau and his premiership, I find myself rising to his defence against criticisms levied by a fellow blogger, Mark Crawford.
It is Crawford's contention that Canada is losing $30-40 million a day by being unable to ship bitumen to Asia and he lays that squarely at the feet of Trudeau, David Suzuki, Elizabeth May and, curiously enough, former BC NDP leader, Adrian Dix.
Crawford blames the Gang of Four over Trudeau's decision to reject the Enbridge, Northern Gateway pipeline from the Tar Sands to Kitimat on British Columbia's north coast.
At the core of Crawford's rant is the proposal of BC community newspaper magnate (?) David Black's plan to build a bitumen refinery at the terminal end of the Northern Gateway, in Kitimat. Had Black not been thwarted, in Crawford's mind tankers filled with synthetic crude oil, not dilbit, would have been sailing merrily on their way to Asia and we would have all been vastly richer.
As a supporter of the bitumen refining option, the glaring weakness in Crawford's curious logic is that he wanted the refinery at the wrong end of the Northern Gateway pipeline. Had the stuff been refined on site in Athabasca there would have been no need for a dilbit pipeline at all.
Dilbit, after all, is diluted bitumen. It is bitumen mixed with a diluent, usually condensate, that lowers its viscosity enough that, under high pressure and heat, the sludge can be moved through pipeline. That requires a significant volume of diluent be transmitted to Athabasca so it can be mixed with bitumen so that the combined product can then be transmitted to the coast. This takes a lot of energy, creates a lot of carbon emissions and leaves the territory that dilbit pipeline crosses at risk of a disastrous dilbit spill. Crawford's Kitimat refinery would do nothing to mitigate those risks.
Then there are the treacherous waters of the north coast, the Hecate and Johnstone Straits. During the NEB hearings there was testimony from many mariners about those perilous waters. A Canadian navy captain testified that even a powerful, agile destroyer could have serious problems when sudden storms of immense fury developed. A heavily laden, lumbering tanker? Not a chance.
Trudeau can be faulted for many things. His decision to cancel the Northern Gateway pipeline is not one of them. It had nothing to do, as Crawford suggests, with nimbyism.