Enbridge has a best friend in Ottawa

Canada’s largest transporter of crude oil allies with the capital, whether it wants it or not

Power corp.

Jimmy Jeong

Patrick Daniel started in the oil and gas pipeline business more than 30 years ago. At the time, pumping oil through thousands of kilometres of buried metal pipes was viewed as a relatively innocuous activity, to the extent it was even thought about at all. “It was generally considered to be dull, boring and well below the radar screen,” says Daniel, the chief executive of Calgary’s Enbridge Inc., now the country’s largest transporter of crude oil. “It provided an essential service to society and was something that most everyone took for granted.”

Not anymore. Enbridge now occupies ground zero in the raging debate over Alberta’s vast oil sands. The company’s proposed $5.5-billion Northern Gateway project, a pipeline running 1,177 km from near Edmonton to a shipping terminal in Kitimat, B.C., is badly needed to deliver the gooey bitumen to energy-hungry Asian markets. But activists who protest the oil sands’ heavy carbon footprint have seized on the project as a way to choke off further development in northern Alberta. They’ve joined forces with local environmentalists and First Nations groups along the Northern Gateway’s proposed route, and are seeking to have the pipeline killed. A similar strategy was successfully used to throw up a roadblock in front of rival TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL project, which was supposed to deliver oil sands crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Fortunately for Enbridge and its shareholders, the company has found itself with a powerful new ally in recent months: Ottawa. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made oil sands exports and greater ties with Asia a key economic focus, and his government appears to be doing whatever it can to make sure the Northern Gateway gets built. That includes reminding Canadians the pipeline is in the country’s “national interest,” passing key legislative changes that could be used to dramatically speed up the pipeline’s approval and launching direct attacks on groups opposing the project—even going so far as to name some a “terrorist threat.”

It’s the kind of government support most big Canadian corporations can only dream about. And it signifies a profound westward shift of corporate power under Harper. Where once companies like Quebec’s Power Corp. were viewed as among the country’s most politically connected—several former prime ministers had links to the company or the controlling Desmarais family at various points in their careers—nowadays it’s the gleaming office towers on the banks of Calgary’s Bow River that appear to have the most heft. Enbridge may not have a direct line to 24 Sussex like Power Corp. did, but the Harper government sees its interests and the country’s aligned with those of the company. “All the senior leaders in the federal Tory caucus know what they have out there and the value of it,” says Tory strategist Tim Powers. “And that’s always been in their mind in terms of the policies and the approaches they’re taking.”

Enbridge has at times appeared surprised with its new-found political clout, at least publicly. Insiders say that’s because Alberta oil executives are still adjusting to the reality of having industry supporters controlling the House of Commons and effectively doing its bidding. Ottawa is, after all, a place that once subjected the province to the hated National Energy Program. For one thing, Harper’s preference for tackling his perceived enemies head-on doesn’t always sit well with an industry that’s already on the losing end of a public relations war over the “tar sands.” Of course, it may ultimately prove to be a relatively small price to pay given the hundreds of billions of dollars at stake.

Ottawa’s intense interest in pipelines is a relatively recent phenomenon. But the same can’t be said of the oil industry. The Northern Gateway, backed by several big oil sands companies, is all about making sure Canada receives top dollar for a key resource: the 169 billion barrels of recoverable crude in Alberta’s oil sands. At present, nearly 99 per cent of Canada’s oil exports go to the United States, mostly through a network of pipelines. The trouble is, a combination of bottlenecks in the system and increasing production from North Dakota’s Bakken shale deposits threatens to squeeze capacity and depress prices in Cushing, Okla., a major U.S. domestic refinery hub that is currently experiencing a glut.

These days, the U.S.-focused West Texas Intermediate benchmark, against which most oil sands crude is priced, trades at a steep discount to the more international Brent index. The discrepancy costs the Canadian industry billions of dollars annually. “In the 30-plus years I’ve been in this business, I’ve watched the monthly interactions between sellers in Canada and refiners and buyers in the U.S., and there’s always one reason or another for discounting our crude,” says Enbridge’s Daniel. “All Canadian producers want is an alternative so they can say, ‘Guess what? We’re going to ship our crude to China or Korea or Japan this month.’ ” He points to studies that suggest guaranteed access to world market prices would translate into as much $8 to $13 extra on every barrel.

The problem was supposed to be alleviated, in part, by the construction of the Keystone XL, which would have relieved the glut at Cushing and meant more oil for Gulf refineries to export overseas. But the pipeline received a setback earlier this year after U.S. President Barack Obama bowed to pressure from environmentalists and declined to sign off on a key permit. The decision, in turn, dramatically raised the stakes for Enbridge, shifting the focus of both activists and the industry to B.C. Urged on by opponents such as B.C.’s Dogwood Initiative, more than 4,500 people signed up to speak (for 10 minutes each) before a joint review panel, threatening to grind the two-year-old public consultation and review process to a halt.

That’s when Ottawa revealed it was prepared to intervene. Powers, the Tory strategist, says Keystone’s troubles lit a fire under Harper to take advantage of his majority and to realize a key policy goal: establishing Canada as an energy superpower. “You almost have a perfect storm that allows you to make significant moves to push your agenda forward,” Powers says. “Now, you’ll take some heat for it, but the calculation of the government is that, ‘I’ll take the bruising and the potential for a slip in the polls now in exchange for the economic benefits that will come later.’ ”

In January, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver fired a shot across the bow of the pipeline’s opponents, with a scathing open letter that warned of “environmental and other radical groups” that “threaten to hijack our regulatory system.” Oliver promised major reviews could be accomplished in a “quicker and more streamlined fashion.” Last week, the government passed a number of regulatory changes in the federal budget that will allow reviews of major resource projects to be completed in less than 24 months. Depending on how they’re implemented, the changes could mean environmental approvals for the Northern Gateway later this year, instead of in 2013.

Much work remains to be done. So far, Enbridge has said that nearly 60 per cent of First Nations communities along the pipeline’s proposed route have accepted an equity stake in the project. But, unlike Alberta, B.C. Premier Christy Clark has so far declined to speak out in favour of the pipeline, saying the province would prefer to wait until the environmental assessments have been completed.

There were also new measures in the federal budget aimed at neutering anti-oil sands groups—namely more resources to help the Canada Revenue Agency crack down on charities violating rules that limit political advocacy to less than 10 per cent of budgets.

Environmentalists say it’s all part of Ottawa’s effort to reframe the debate. “We’re no longer talking about the issues,” says Jay Ritchlin, with the David Suzuki Foundation. “Now we’re just shouting at each other.” Meanwhile, others have pointed to the recent pipeline spill by a rival company in central Alberta, or Enbridge’s own spill in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River two years ago, as evidence of the ongoing risks involved.

As for the question of foreign money being used to “hijack” the pipeline’s review process, Ritchlin says it pales in comparison to the billions backing the oil sands industry. “There are people all over the planet who share our air and water,” he says. “They have a legitimate interest in this [project], just like all those foreign shareholders who want to get that oil out of the ground.”

Despite interests that now seem almost perfectly aligned, the degree to which Enbridge and Ottawa might be working together isn’t clear. Federal records show a dramatic spike in meetings between company lobbyists and federal officials last year, suggesting Enbridge sought government help as the controversy over Northern Gateway heated up.

Daniel, however, downplays Enbridge’s pull with Harper’s team. “The only meetings I have had on this subject with the Prime Minister was in a room with about 20 or 30 people when I went to China as part of a trade mission,” he says, referring to a trip earlier this year. “But I know the whole industry is supportive and that a number of members put forward the case to the federal government that we need to get this western outlet and tidewater access.”

Still, Daniel claims he was “a bit surprised” the government proposed changes to streamline the system in this year’s budget, saying he’s been complaining about the issue since becoming CEO in 2001. Nor does he believe the changes will impact the Northern Gateway review process in any meaningful way.

The government suggests otherwise. “Transition measures in the legislation outline how changes will apply to existing projects,” said Oliver in a statement provided to Maclean’s by his office. In the case of Northern Gateway, he said the new timelines would “take into account the current status of the review process, as well as the information that has already been collected.”

But it’s not all good news for Enbridge. It has spent the past two years trying to work with key stakeholders, from environmentalists to First Nations. The last thing it wants is for those same people to now suspect the entire process has been rigged. “[Enbridge] might be able to tolerate an additional several months of hearings in order to increase how smoothly the pipeline gets built once it gets approved,” says George Hoberg, a professor in the University of British Columbia’s department of forest resources management who has spoken against the Northern Gateway project. “It could be quite costly for it to get into a situation where it’s trying to bring in backhoes and bulldozers while native elders are lying on the ground in front of them.”

Indeed, insiders say Alberta’s oil executives have privately cringed at some of Ottawa’s recent rhetoric, particularly efforts to label environmentalists and activists as radicals. “That letter didn’t go down well in Calgary,” says one lobbyist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, referring to the jarring missive Minister Oliver’s office shared with newspapers earlier this year. After all, these are companies that have invested heavily in renewable energy projects and, in many cases, have sought unlikely partnerships with environmental and other groups in a bid to establish themselves as good corporate citizens.

Daniel says he supports Oliver’s characterization of some of the pipeline’s more extreme opponents, although he’s careful to draw a distinction between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. “Some of the environmentalists opposed to this project have said, if it is approved, they’re going to break the law and blockade it,” he says. “Now if I told you that I didn’t care what the National Energy Board says, and I was going to build [the pipeline] anyway, you would call that ‘radical.’ So I consider it very radical for people to say they’re going to break the law after we’ve gone through a decision process.”

But even as he tries to strike a conciliatory, apolitical tone, Daniel, who is retiring later this year, can’t resist a little political speak himself—even though he prefaces his remark as tongue-in-cheek. “I noticed that in B.C. the senior health officials have concluded the drug ecstasy is safe for consumption,” he says. “And I find it rather ironic that a province has implied a crude oil pipeline is unsafe, but that ecstasy is. I guess I’m getting too old for this business.”


Enbridge has a best friend in Ottawa

  1. ah yes, because ingesting a drug internally and potentially only doing harm to the individual is comparable to an oil pipeline leak damaging large swaths of land, natural habitats and damaging multiple livelihoods…

    I actually remember hearing one Oil and Gas CEO claim that they’re actually helping clean up the environment by removing the oil from the land, he was serious as well.

    Still not as bad as being leered upon by Jason Kenny like a cheap prostitute during a Civitas meeting but still pretty disturbing.

  2. I just don’t understand why they don’t build better pipelines? The kind that won’t corrode from the corrosive particulates that are in oil sands bitumen but not in other oil, for example. A pipe that has protective inner and outer layers. Sure, it will cost Enbridge a heck of a lot more to build a pipeline such as this, but reducing the spills is priceless.

    • Priceless=worthless to criminals. If they can’t sell it, what’s the point in stealing it? To deal with sociopaths like Harper and Daniels in a capitalist economy requires putting prices on everything: Lands, waters, emissions to the atmosphere, spills in the oceans. Only then will it become obvious to spreadsheet worshippers that there is no money here for them, as the liabilities outweigh the assets, and they go away. If you don’t do it that way, you will end up in violent confrontation with them eventually.

    • Clever suggestions too often go unneeded and unexplored.

  3. Ottawa needs to intervene to combat all those enviro nut NGOs out there. Good read from the former editor of the Northern Miner. This speech is from 1999 but you can see it happening with the NDPs stance on our oil sands.

    “It is starting to become obvious that some of the measures being advocated to arrest global warming have more to do with the leftist struggle to re-distribute wealth than to save the environment. For proof of this, one need look no further than the environmental and social reforms proposed at the recent Earth Summits, ostensibly to bring about a greener and fairer world.

    Critics argue that these programs would slow or halt growth in developed countries in the name of an uncertain science, thereby redistributing wealth on a massive scale to the Third World. These programs are strongly endorsed by some members of the United Nations for that very reason.

    The Earth Summits have taken this to the next step, and laid out an action plan that calls for regulation and redistribution on a grand scale. A national business magazine estimated that the price tag for such a plan would be a stunning US$600 billion per year.

    Already we have the farcical concept of North American corporations buying emission credits – including that newly diagnosed pollutant, carbon dioxide – from underdeveloped nations so that they can stay in business at home. If the Earth Summits were really about protecting the earth, they would stop focusing on buying and selling greenhouse gases and tackle issues people can do something about, such as the pressing but non-glamorous issues of waste management, and improving sanitation and cleaning up polluted water, which kills more people and spreads more disease than anything else. They would focus on cleaning up pollution at its source, rather than attempting to play God and control a climate which, if the last ice age was any indication, is beyond our control.

    The labour unions are starting to worry about the Earth Summit initiatives, because they see the writing on the wall for their membership. The labor movement is caught in the crosshairs of the left-right struggle, yet they hesitate to form alliances with their traditional adversary, their employers, and remain reluctant to break their ties with their socialist allies, the environmental groups. Industry may have to make the first move here.”

    The Guardian constantly has “opinion” pieces attacking our oil sands.


    • Now there’s a fine example of CC denial dressed up as pseudo social economic analytic crap – little or no evidence , but lots of biased opinionated twaddle. And they have the nerve to call the enviro movement paranoid and deluded.

      • I disagree – read the whole speech.
        “With little or no direct exposure to mining, urban Canadians see our industry second-hand, through a media filter, or through the jaundiced eye of some environmentalist knocking at their door. And the pictures brought before them are not pretty.
        The industry must wonder at times why so much emphasis is placed on even the smallest of its sins, and why little or no attention is paid to companies doing things right or to companies with outstanding environmental records. The answer is simple: controversy sells newspapers. And mining, by its very nature, is controversial. It is an industry which digs holes, builds mills and smelters, and exploits resources for profit. So one small mistake will not only get far more ink than a thousand things done right; one small mistake will obliterate a thousand things done right.
        Some environmentalists have tried to make hay with some of these incidents, arguing that miners should be drummed out of business. While some media may have bought into this message and tried to propagate it, most Canadians are smart enough to know that this is an extremist view. They understand that mining has a place in society , provided it operates to the highest engineering and environmental standards, whether at home or abroad.”

  4. “Now if I told you that I didn’t care what the National Energy Board says, and I was going to build [the pipeline] anyway, you would call that ‘radical

    Too late bud. The govt now has the right to disregard the decision of the NEB and default to cabinet. Effectively the impression of a rigged game is out there. The FNs in particular will not except cabinet override or even a green light from the board…nice move by our Einstein of a PM. This pipeline is now guaranteed to not happen and the irony is that it’s largely down to Oliver and Harper .

    • Agreed. It’s about the most incompetent handling of any industrial issue ever. The process is obviously corrupt and the decision obviously made in advance, therefore, not binding nor legal. No judge is going to back HarpEnbridge over the Yinka Dene or BC government, both of which can block this with a stroke of the pen. The former already have, they’ve barred tankers from their waters, meaning, no pipeline, period.

      • Craig, `legal` doesn`t matter to this gang. Canadian taxpayers are shelling out mega-dollars right now as Harper Conservative laws that contravene our rights and freedoms are challenged in various courts. Legal does not matter to Harper Conservatives. What counts to them is their secret, hidden agenda.

        An example? Quebec decided on a moratorium halting oil and gas exploration last year until they complete a study. Harper gave Quebec $2 Billion this year to “compensate“ them for changes made to their tax system 8 years ago. Quebec turned around and put $1 Billion in this year`s budget for (you guessed already) oil and gas exploration and development.

        Money talks…so does payola…

  5. Everyone agrees that all of Canada will benefit economically — The Albertans are OK with trashing their own province (and their immediate neigbours) — what`s the down side for Ontario

    • “A nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

      “When we run out of places to poison in Alberta..we can probably just blow up these mountains over here” – The Harper Government (paraphrased)

  6. I find it fascinating that Pat Daniels, CEO Enbridge states that “Now if I told you that I didn’t care what the National Energy Board
    says, and I was going to build [the pipeline] anyway, you would call
    that ‘radical.’ So I consider it very radical for people to say they’re
    going to break the law after we’ve gone through a decision process.”
    But WAIT! Bill C-38 makes it OK for the federal gov’t, clearly influenced by Enbridge, to go ahead with the project even if the NEB says no. Who’s the radical?

    • I would call it “criminal” if someone tried to simply bulldoze a polluting project into unceded native lands. Or an “act of war” if they had the backing of a government with access to military force. Self-defense applies, both individually & collectively. It’s not “radical” to destroy physical property that is endangering your life or your lands, nor to shoot at people who intend to shoot at you. We’re well beyond “radical” in this debate. The question is now who would the UN back in an international law scenario, which Security Council members would accept an ambassador from the Yinka Dene, and so on.

  7. “Federal records show a dramatic spike in meetings between company
    lobbyists and federal officials last year, suggesting Enbridge sought
    government help as the controversy over Northern Gateway heated up.” Wonder just how many meetings have been held and if those meetings shouldn’t be public knowledge.

    • Criminals meet often with their lawyers and attorney-client privelege applies. Same principle here. They’re all on the same side, Harper=Enbridge=corrupt=criminal=racist=liars=incompetent=denialist. I’m amazed Patrick Daniel isn’t in Cabinet.

  8. The oil will move by train to the coast for the exclusive benefit of CN shareholders if the pipeline is not build, and BC aboriginal groups will lose enormous amounts of skill trades training for its people, and 10% of the pipeline revenue for generations.

    These rail lines are the same ones that are the lifeblood of the BC economy. It you block the rail lines in protest, BC’s economy shuts down.

    BC will alienate themselves from all their oil-starved Asian neighbours if they block the pipeline.

    Northern BC is entering the global economy is a big way. Their world is going to be transformed. The world is coming to Northern BC, and there is not much that can be done to stop it. The forces bringing it about are external to Canada.

    The BC government has already exempted all the CO2 produced burning natural gas for LNG liquifaction from its carbon taxes and emissions limits.

    • Wrong, whyshouldisellyourwheat:

      The `rail lines` are NOT the lifeblood of the BC economy!

      Did you hear our BC railroad was sold after the BC Liberals were first elected? Do you recall how they said they would not sell the railway, and then did? Since then, two BC government assistants pleaded guilty to the fraudulent conveyance, but the political party managed to survive.

      Oh, and by the way, the BC Liberals are worse than just exempting LNG plant emissions. They actually refund one-half the cost of pipelines, pay for all of the cost and maintenance of wharves to export via tanker transport, and give a 3-year royalty holiday after the pipeline is built. In other words, these groups that net Billions are year are subsidized by taxpayers in BC to ruin our land! In addition, because all pipeline work is sub-contracted, the sub-contractors can factor in HST refunds of 12% from the federal government for equipment and labour.

      Doesn`t it make you wonder how the calculation goes – ie – does a pipeline refund consist of 50% from BC and additional 12% from Canada, leaving corporations to pay only 38% of total costs and taxpayers of Canada to pay 62%? Probably…

  9. Just because Enbridge and the Harper government are in bed together doesn’t mean this pipeline and tanker project will be built. British Columbians are going to stand strong against this and do whatever it takes to stop it. While Pat Daniel and Harper may be in ecstasy, few west of Alberta are pleased about this love affair. Just ask former Conservative Fisheries’ Ministers. Enbridge would do well to retire Northern Gateway along with Pat Daniel later this year.

    • ” Enbridge would do well to retire Northern Gateway along with Pat Daniel later this year.” It’s possible. TransCanada got a new CEO after their first attempt to simply ignore Nebraska’s legitimate route objections failed, and after the news of their illegal bullying of landowners along the southern part of the route came out. However the companies remain. Corporate death penalty (revocation of charter and rights to raise money or do business in Canada or the US) would be a more viable solution to these criminal organizations that defy regulations, laws, human rights and even try to subordinate legislatures (like Nebraska’s or BC’s) legitimate right to protect the lands and waters.

  10. It is ridiculous to say “Enbridge” was surprised by Ottawa support. They give directives to Ottawa which is the government of the tar sands industry. Please document the extreme lobbying efforts, campaign contributions and do not feed us anymore this pathetic rhetoric. As for “Now if I told you that I didn’t care what the National Energy Board says, and I was going to build [the pipeline] anyway, you would call that ‘radical.’” that is exactly what Harper said he will do. If NEB says “no”, he said he will overide the decision. Indeed I agree with Mr.Daniel on that point. Law and science have nothing to do with the Gateway project. It is just greed and corruption, notwithstanding selling the future of our children

  11. Enbridge’s Keystone Pipeline Cops spent $800 million cleaning up the Kalamazoo River… so far. No way will these people build a pipeline across BC to fill tankers in narrow dangerous inlets. No way.

    Thanks to Harper’s feudal maneuverings, First Nations will be the only organizations with the strength to protect BC’s water, ecosystems, and coastline. I will be walking with the Aboriginals on this one.

    • The Public Intellectuals Project at McMaster University in Hamilton disagrees that Aboriginals are strengthening under the Harper controlled state regime. In fact, Harper Conservatives new tough-on-crime agenda clearly appears to have an intention of weakening them substantially:

      “Chillingly, while expanding numbers of Aboriginal youth and adults
      spend their days locked in cages, others benefit from this
      cruel…disparity…less resistance…as this tougher crime legislation begins
      to remove more and more Aboriginal people from their communities and
      put them instead behind bars. Hampered from publicly protesting the
      exploitation of natural resources or advocating for their land rights
      while in prison, Aboriginal people and their communities will encounter
      huge difficulties in fighting the destruction of something so essential
      to their way of life. “

      There is more to the tough-on-crime agenda than pedophiles, that`s for sure!

  12. Enbridge is not a responsible nor ethical organization. They seem to think they can simply push First Nations aside using, what, military force at public expense? Any “decision process” is now tainted by changes to it in the middle, so there is no reason for any decent citizen to support this company or its bought politicians. The company has a quite negative reputation with regulators http://thetyee.ca/News/2012/07/12/Enbridge-Executives-Pay-Raise/?utm_source=mondayheadlines&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=160712 “US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that corporate
    neglect fueled by a “culture of deviance” on safety issues at Enbridge
    caused an “organizational accident” that was preventable.

    The NTSB, an independent federal agency
    that studies the causes of accidents, said that weak and underfunded
    pipeline regulators played a role in the spill too.

    The company’s response to the pipeline
    rupture from the control room to spill containment was so chaotic and
    unfocused that the NTSB chair Deborah Hersman compared Enbridge’s
    negligence to the bungling of the Keystone Cops.

    The NTSB findings, which listed scores of
    deficiencies in management, pipeline safety, public awareness and spill
    containment, directly contradict company claims that Enbridge puts
    safety as opposed to growth and profits first in its extensive pipeline

    A synopsis
    of the NTSB (the final report will be released later this summer) found
    that Enbridge “failed to ensure that all control center staff had
    adequate knowledge, skills, and abilities to recognize and address
    pipeline leaks.”

    Moreover, “Enbridge’s failure to exercise
    effective oversight of pipeline integrity and control center operations,
    implement an effective public awareness program, and implement an
    adequate post accident response were organizational failures that
    resulted in the accident and increased its severity.””

    • Shush…this is secret…no one is to know…

      Harper Conservatives have already taken care of “weak and underfunded
      pipeline regulators”…Harper Conservatives fired the environmental scientists and, along with BC Liberals, have created voluntary self-regulation!

      In other words, there isn`t any real regulation in either BC or Canada now.

      Evidence from a US organization doesn`t matter to boss Harper, didn`t you know?

  13. More news showing why Patrick Daniel ought to be fired and Stephen Harper with him:
    and it looks like even the Koch brothers are now pursuing a carbon tax, perhaps as a way to distract against the water and natural gas giveaways/subsidies, human health harms, direct river and ocean damage, and other non-carbon harms done by their Tar Sands investments http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/Environment/2012/07/13/carbon-tax-AEI-koch-industries/

  14. It’s laughable to think that *trains* can replace a pipeline. It’s also easy to determine when they are carrying such a bulk load and stop only trains with those particular cars. Shippers will demand that their loads go in trains that are not going to be stopped. Train cars derail, and the carbon harms are the same regardless since they’re mostly end of tailpipe emissions. This fantasy that the pipeline is inevitable or that Asians really demand this dirty oil when they are doing everything in their power to eliminate it (at $100/BBL who can blame them) and would prefer to buy from Iran anyway, is just that, a deluded fantasy.

    • Train transport is already a fact in the US. I hear it is cheaper and better because of improvements to train engines. It is interesting research, if you care to inform yourself.

  15. Although the industry may oppose the decline in profitability, oil and gas drilling is totally unnecessary today as those sources of energy have already been replaced with viable alternatives that are just not widely available yet.

    A few examples of clean, renewable alternative energy sources:

    – a newly-invented emission-free nitrogen engine was announced in Japan this year;
    – a solar powered airplane flew in the US this year;
    – liquid solar paint has been invented that will convert a variety of hard surfaces into a source of solar energy and the supporting infrastructure is quite inexpensive; and
    – untapped ocean energy from currents, salinity gradients, tidal changes, waves and thermal (temperature) changes is available with new methods that can protect marine wildlife and coastal regions from offshore oil extraction mishaps and spills.

    Alternative sources of energy are being invented right now, but Canada and BC politicians have chosen only to subsidize the oil and gas industry and provide no funds at all to develop alternative fuels.

    For example, in BC, oil and gas pipelines are eligible to receive a 50% refund on construction expenses. Additionally, sub-contractors, who are in turn eligible to factor in 12% HST refunds on equipment purchases and labour, construct all pipelines. In all, taxpayers pay more than half of the pipeline construction costs, with corporations paying between 38% and 44% and taxpayers paying 56% to 62% (depending on formula). Docking wharves and facilities for tanker exports are entirely paid for and maintained by BC taxpayers.

    I believe the Canadian and BC governments are rushing to maximize profit while making as deep a commitment to oil and gas as possible before alternative energy sources become widely available.