Andrew Nikiforuk, Western Canada fossil energy super-scribe, mocks the reaction of the fossil fuelers, corporate and political, to the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal quashing the federal government's approval of the TransMountain pipeline.
The debate about the Federal Court of Appeal decision that killed the approval for the Trans Mountain $7.4-billion pipeline expansion speaks volumes about the oily state of Canadian politics.
The leaders of Canada’s die-hard petro republics, Alberta’s Rachel Notley and Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe, predictably chaffed and frothed.
They complained that they had been let down, billions of dollars are being lost and Parliament must address “this crisis.”
Business types lamented that the courts had dealt another blow to Canada’s mining republic reputation by slowing down another noble megaproject promising jobs and prosperity — for China no less.
The power of oil to construct narratives that bear little or no relation to the truth is a global phenomenon and, in Canada, a new boreal specialty. You can’t find a more entitled political player than a petroleum exporter.
All in all, the media and Canadian politicians reduced the court decision to a dubious concession to pesky First Nations and environmentalists and another damned hurdle for “the national interest” and the pursuit of jobs.
But that’s not the truth or the reality.
...Canada remains another unaccountable petro state when it comes to reducing emissions from fossil fuels. Canada won’t be able to meet any of its climate targets because of rising emissions from the oilsands and, for that matter, from proposed LNG production. When Notley, Alberta’s petulant petro leader, pulled out of the nation’s carbon pricing plan over the court decision, she merely abandoned an already doomed strategy designed by cynics to serve the status quo.
The economist Jeff Rubin recently stated the obvious. “For the publicly climate-change-conscious Trudeau government, which seeks to eradicate widespread international perceptions of Canada as a climate change laggard, the country’s recent emission performance is no better than during the previous Harper government, which was ignominiously awarded a ‘Lifetime Unachievement’ Fossil award at the UN climate change conference in Warsaw in 2013.”
Mark Jaccard has also called a spade a spade. “National studies by independent researchers (including my university-based group) consistently show that Mr. Trudeau’s 2015 Paris promise of a 30-per-cent reduction by 2030 is unachievable with oilsands expansion. His staff know this, so he knows it, too.”
...The real law-breaker in this sorry narrative remains the federal government. Trudeau and company have frequently attacked the B.C. government’s opposition to the pipeline expansion, arguing that “the federal government will not allow any province to infringe on federal jurisdiction over making decisions about resource development in the national interest.” But the Federal Court of Appeal found that it was the federal government that actually broke the law.
It didn’t engage with First Nations in a rigorous or honest way and it failed to assess the impact of increased tanker traffic on B.C.’s wildlife and coastal economy. As such the court decision vindicates the 220 people who have been arrested at Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby facility for protesting the pipeline expansion.
Before approving the pipeline, Trudeau had promised to fix the flawed National Energy Board process for reviewing such projects, but he didn’t. He emerges from this drama as a consistent law-breaker and promise-breaker — a weak and feckless leader with no moral code.
...The fictional billions that Notley, Alberta opposition leader Jason Kenney and Moe claim the industry has lost due to the stalled construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline remain the biggest lie now eroding Canadian politics and democracy.
Bitumen will soon be subject to more discounts that have nothing to do with pipelines or global markets. The International Maritime Organization plans to reduce the amount of sulfur in fuel used by ships from 3.5 per cent to 0.5 per cent by 2020. The change has major ramifications for the global refinery business and Canada, one of the world’s largest producers of high sulfur heavy crude. The Canadian Energy Research Institute even predicts that “the price discount on Western Canada Select (WCS) crude... will expand significantly due to the IMO regulation.”
...Partial upgrading of bitumen could solve this problem while improving quality and adding value. Such ventures are expensive, and would also be heavy carbon emitters. But they could free up 30 per cent more pipeline capacity. If Trudeau was interested in a political compromise and a deal good for the national interest, he would kill the Trans Mountain expansion and invest in partial upgrading in Alberta.
In one blow he would remove an egregious pipeline that threatens B.C.’s coastal economy and put Albertans back to work by producing a higher value product for the marketplace. It wouldn’t be good for climate change but petro states don’t give a damn about the future or their children anyway. They live for oil, and only oil.If you've got a slavish loyalty to the Liberal Party or just a raging crush on Justin Trudeau, that's your problem. His handling of this dilbit fiasco and the laughable TransMountain pipeline has stripped the mask off this self-proclaimed environmentalist prime minister. His claim that he can expand Canada's high-carbon petro economy and defend the environment is nothing more than another fraudulent pitch by a 21st century iteration of an alchemist.