Why Trudeau and the oil industry are losing the pipeline battle - Macleans.ca

Why Trudeau and the oil industry are losing the pipeline battle

New oil sands pipelines may be vital for the industry, but opponents are winning

A demonstrator is taken away by police officers after disrupting the National Energy Board public hearing into the proposed $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline project proposed by TransCanada Monday, August 29, 2016 in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

A demonstrator is taken away by police officers after disrupting the National Energy Board public hearing into the proposed $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline project proposed by TransCanada Monday, August 29, 2016 in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

The pipeline people first visited Serge Simon in the fall of 2014, bearing not gifts but questions. Simon, the grand chief of the Montreal-area reserve of Kanesatake, had heard about the TransCanada Energy East project, the 4,500-km, $15.7-billion pipeline that would deliver the fruits of Alberta’s oil sands to the East Coast. The country’s oil industry has said a new pipeline is crucial for the development of the oil sands, which is projected to produce over 5.5 million barrels a day by 2030, according to a 2016 Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) report.

A section of the pipeline would cross through a 675-sq.-km parcel of land claimed by Kanesatake. Several council chiefs “wanted to kick TransCanada out completely. They didn’t want to talk to them, they didn’t want to hear anything,” Simon says. “I wanted to show good faith.”

So he listened. “We started talks, everything was going well. Then all of a sudden they started asking questions: ‘We’re going to need to know your use of the land where the pipeline is passing. We need to know your traditional knowledge of plants and animals in that area that might be affected by this project. What are your activities on those lands today?’ ”

Simon worried that answering these questions would prejudice Kanesatake’s land claim with the federal government. “When they said that, I said, ‘OK, that’s it. All talks are off.’ ” He politely asked TransCanada to leave.

Then he began to read: about the process of extracting Alberta bitumen, about climate change, about alternative energy sources both practical and fantastical. He stopped worrying about the route of TransCanada’s proposed pipeline, and started questioning its very legitimacy.

Serge Simon, Grand Chief of Kanesatake, signs a treaty as Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, and other native leaders look on Thursday, September 22, 2016 in Montreal. Canadian First Nations and U.S. tribal communities have signed a treaty to fight the development and distribution of oilsands crude from Alberta. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

Serge Simon, Grand Chief of Kanesatake, signs a treaty as Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, and other native leaders look on Thursday, September 22, 2016 in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

He spearheaded talks with other Native bands across the country. Eighteen months later, some 87 bands have signed onto the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, which aims to prevent the development of any pipeline carrying bitumen from Alberta—all told, four pipeline projects representing a daily capacity of more than three million barrels. “Those pipelines are not coming through. They’re wasting their money,” Simon declared at the press conference announcing the treaty.

Pipeline opposition has jumped the often fraught line between Indigenous and non-Indigenous politicians. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, a vocal opponent of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain project in B.C., has been in talks with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who opposes Energy East. “We’re on the same page with the Montreal and Quebec communities,” Robertson told Maclean’s, calling the federal pipeline approval process “disastrous.”

In 2013, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau assailed the Conservative government for having “failed to move the yardsticks” on pipelines—which he called “the most important infrastructure projects of our generation.” Getting oil to the coast would reduce the discount at which it is currently sold and remove supply bottlenecks. It would also reassure investors of the long-term viability of the oil and gas industry, Canada’s largest private sector investor.

Yet three years later those yardsticks have hardly budged, and may have inched backwards. National Energy Board hearings into Energy East have been postponed due to protest and board resignations. In B.C., a judge overturned the two-year-old approval for the Northern Gateway pipeline in B.C., pending proper Indigenous consultation. And while the cabinet may approve Trans Mountain by Christmas, it would be doing so as pushback grows. Indigenous bands and environmental groups have promised fresh opposition on both sides of the country. Practically and politically, building pipelines is incredibly hard. It may have become impossible.

In Canada, the politics of pipelines have helped topple governments. In 1956, Trans-Canada Pipe Lines Ltd, the American predecessor of the Calgary-based company behind Energy East, sought a loan of $80 million (about $700 million in today’s dollars) from the federal government to build a natural gas pipeline from Alberta to Montreal. By lending millions of dollars to a Texas-based company, the Liberals bruised an already fragile collective nationalism. The government of Louis St-Laurent lost the next election largely as a result, putting an end to a 22-year Liberal reign.

By adding bits to either end, TransCanada hopes this very pipeline will flow with bitumen from Hardisty, Alta., to Saint John, N.B., in 2021, the projected completion date. The issue this time around is less nationalist than environmental—particularly along the 650 km route through Quebec.

Recently, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard voiced Quebecers’ “legitimate” concerns over the Energy East project. “It’s not a popular or political expression of negativity toward the West; it’s just normal concerns by citizens over their freshwater reserves,” he told Bloomberg News.

Patricia Kelly, of the Sto:lo First Nation, chants and beats a drum during a protest outside National Energy Board hearings on the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in Burnaby, B.C., on Tuesday January 19, 2016. The proposed $5-billion expansion would nearly triple the capacity of the pipeline that carries crude oil from near Edmonton to the Vancouver area to be loaded on tankers and shipped overseas. (Darryl Dyck)

Patricia Kelly, of the Sto:lo First Nation, chants and beats a drum during a protest outside National Energy Board hearings on the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in Burnaby, B.C., on Tuesday January 19, 2016. (Darryl Dyck)

Other Quebec politicians have been less diplomatic. Last January, the mayors of 82 Montreal-area towns, including Montreal Mayor Coderre, formally opposed the Energy East project. According to a December 2015 report from the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM), the body representing these 82 mayors, the Energy East pipeline would present an “imbalance between the considerable environmental and security risks and weak economic impacts for the Greater Montreal region.” (The project will generate about 33 permanent jobs in Quebec once built, according to NEB filings.)

Coderre adds arrogance to this list of affronts. “There was a lack of respect” from TransCanada, Coderre says. Nearly 4,000 citizens participated in the CMM hearings on the project. Some 143 memoranda were submitted. Despite this, the company refused to participate.

“It’s a bad project,” Coderre says today. “It’s not okay to ask to build a new pipeline and not have the dignity to respect the plan that we put forward to protect our wetlands and all that,” Coderre says. “It’s a fact of life. You have to work with us, even if you don’t like it. If I don’t have any answers, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to give you a blank cheque.”

One of the issues is language. TransCanada’s English-language documents appear on the NEB site; TransCanada’s filings in French appear on TransCanada’s own website. In one document, regarding the pipeline crossing the St Lawrence River, the English version recommends a “stage III assessment,” a “detailed investigation and/or mitigation of an identified hazard.” In the report, published by Calgary-based environmental consultant Golder Associates in March 2015, the St. Lawrence is the only waterway listed as warranting a Phase III assessment—perhaps because of the river’s size and discharge level, the country’s largest. Yet the French version of the same report omits the Phase III recommendation.

As with the St. Lawrence, the proposed pipeline will pass underneath the Ottawa River in Quebec’s Outaouais region. Yet according to a feasibility report prepared by Calgary-based Entec Engineering Technology for TransCanada in June 2014, boring under the Ottawa River “is technically unfeasible” and would likely lead to “extra costs, delays and increased environmental impacts.” (The report, which has since been removed from TransCanada’s filings, is still on Quebec’s environment ministry website.)

TransCanada readily admits it has failed in Quebec on the public relations front. In September 2015, after roughly a year of mostly negative press coverage in the province, the company hired Louis Bergeron as its vice-president for Quebec and New Brunswick. An industry veteran, Bergeron’s specialty is selling pipeline projects to a skeptical public. Notably, he oversaw the construction of the Pipeline St-Laurent project, a 250-km pipeline through which flows petroleum products from Ultramar’s facilities in Lévis, Que., to Montreal.

He says there are nuances to Quebec’s political and social landscape that TransCanada didn’t comprehend at the outset of the project. “Quebecers look at pipelines and big projects in general with a different eye than the rest of Canada,” Bergeron says. “Whatever the project, we know it will be obsessed over, we know that certain groups will be vocal, and certain politicians as well. It’s part of the Quebec landscape, and you just have to accept it.”

Quebec isn’t TransCanada’s only hurdle. The NEB hearings regarding Energy East have been postponed, following the resignation of two NEB board members amidst revelations from the National Observer website that they, along with NEB board chairman Peter Watson, met with former Quebec premier Jean Charest in 2015. Charest was consulting for TransCanada at the time. (Watson has also recused himself from the Energy East hearings.)

The ensuing delay in the hearings, which have been pushed back indefinitely, means a decision on the project may become a political issue for Trudeau in the 2019 federal election. Should public and political opinion in Quebec not be swayed by then, Trudeau faces the prospect of okaying an unpopular pipeline through a province where he counts some 40 MPs, many of whom were elected based on his environmental stance. The Montreal-area Indigenous reserves of Kanesatake and Kahnawake are within driving distance of Trudeau’s own riding—and both oppose Energy East.

It doesn’t look good. “The chances that Energy East will cross the province of Quebec are very low,” says Pierre-Olivier Pineau, an energy policy professor at Montreal’s Haute Études Commercial. “There’s more to gain for the politicians, who want to be on the side of virtue.”

Protesters demonstrate against the Energy East and Line 9B Pipelines during a rally in Montreal, Saturday, October 10, 2015. (Graham Hughes/CP)

Protesters demonstrate against the Energy East and Line 9B Pipelines during a rally in Montreal, Saturday, October 10, 2015. (Graham Hughes/CP)

With Energy East hearings set for a reboot, Northern Gateway pushed back by courts and Keystone XL cut off at the U.S. border, the oil industry’s next pipe dream snakes from Edmonton through Jasper National Park, roughly along B.C.’s Coquihalla Highway down into the Fraser Valley, ending at a shipping terminal in Burnaby. By Dec. 19, the federal cabinet will decide whether to approve the Trans Mountain expansion, which traces most of the route of Kinder Morgan’s existing Trans Mountain oil conduit.

It’s long been Trudeau’s favourite son among proposed pipelines: “I certainly hope that we’re going to be able to get that pipeline approved,” he told Metro Calgary in 2014. When his party bid for Lower Mainland seats last fall, it attacked not the pipeline but the regulatory process, promising overhauled NEB and environmental assessment processes.

Trudeau also said things many sides wanted badly to hear: that he was committed to tackling climate change and ensuring more respectful dealings with First Nations, and that he wanted market access for Canada’s resources.

After boosting the party’s B.C. seat count to 17 from two, mostly in the Vancouver area, the Liberals announced the already scheduled NEB hearings would go ahead. The interim “overhaul” would be a three-member panel, which Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr named to hold additional non-regulatory hearings aimed at capturing anything beyond the technical narrowness of an energy board review.

Pipeline critics howled that Harper’s method of NEB hearings, with no oral cross-examinations and other constraints, would remain the new regime’s method—though if the panel was to get a word in edgewise, speak they would. As this ministerial panel wended westward from Alberta this summer—after the NEB’s formal recommendation to approve Trans Mountain, with 157 conditions on environmental mitigation, consultation and more—hearings became increasingly one-sided, raging about spill risk, oil sands emissions and the process itself.

About 91 per cent of the 651 presenters were anti-pipeline, estimates Stand, one of the key B.C. environmental groups corralling such protest. Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson credits those few dozen who “bravely” spoke in favour, mainly businesses and building trades groups. “I think it did create an opportunity for grandstanding and loud voices at the mic, but that’s not uncommon,” Anderson tells Maclean’s. But this extra hearing layer gave him confidence Kinder is already on top of the challenges it faces: “We didn’t really hear anything new.”

Pro-pipeline groups like the Business Council of B.C. also were participants in a set of hearings they didn’t love. But if it eased Trudeau to a “yes,” they wouldn’t protest.

This panel hands in a narrative report this November, but won’t make a recommendation. Karen Mahon, Stand’s Canadian director, says it’s dangerous for the Liberals to have so blithely offered up a platform for grievances. “Asking someone what they think, and then not taking into account what they said to you, is actually a way to manufacture dissent,” she says.

Stand was, until recently, called ForestEthics, a U.S.-based group with roots in logging protest. Mahon was part of the Clayoquot Sound standoff in the 1990s, which led to mass prosecutions of those in the logging trucks’ way, as well as then-NDP government’s provincial protections against clear-cutting old-growth forest. This could similarly harden the core opposition, she says. “Will Kinder Morgan become Trudeau’s Clayoquot? It’s a very similar feeling, a good government trying to please everybody. But in some places that’s just not possible.”

Clayoquot was a battle on the rugged west edge of Vancouver Island; Trans Mountain terminates in Canada’s third-largest metropolitan centre, increasing monthly oil tanker traffic from five to 34. “You expect with this volume of product, there will be spills,” Robertson says.

Kinder Morgan has had 84 reported pipeline spills along Trans Mountain since 1961, mostly small but also a 2007 rupture accident that forced 250 Burnaby resident evacuations and spilled 250,000 litres into the tidewater. Trans Mountain’s tanker operations have never caused such problems, and the NEB found a “very low probability” of a major spill, but the City of Vancouver argues a potential catastrophe threatens tourism and its green brand.

In November 2014, dozens of protesters were arrested for blocking Kinder’s geotechnical survey work on Burnaby Mountain. Among them was Mahon and Stewart Phillip, grand chief of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. “I’m always at the front lines. I could very well be arrested again. And I’m fully prepared to,” he says.

Phillip encouraged his political organization’s member bands to join the anti-pipeline treaty. Fronting in Vancouver was Rueben George of Tsleil-Waututh, whose lands sit across Burrard Inlet from the tanker terminal, and deems the expansion an “unacceptable risk to the water, land and people.”

Tsleil-Waututh lost one court challenge against the pipeline plan this summer, and promptly launched a second one. The Federal Court of Appeal docket is thick with judicial reviews from other Indigenous bands, and environmental groups, and the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby. They all stood firmly opposed before Trudeau took 24 Sussex. They haven’t budged since, for all the Prime Minister’s talk of nation-to-nation relationships and consensus building.

One line he used while campaigning, and as recently as March, has come back at him like an episode of “When Catchphrases Attack.” “He said that yeah, government can grant permits, but it’s communities that grant permission,” Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan told the ministerial panel. “Well, we don’t.”

A reporter asked Trudeau about that permission axiom last week. He didn’t go near it. “Canadians expect us to make the difficult decisions on how to grow the economy and protect the environment at the same time,” he said, one week after Bloomberg News reported the PM plans to approve at least one new pipeline in his first term, citing anonymous sources. Rather than his predecessor’s role as a “cheerleader,” Trudeau fancies his government a referee, reaching for middle ground.

But come decision time, cabinet will have to determine the national interest. That must include Vancouver and First Nations groups, and also Alberta. There, a pipeline is widely seen as an escape route from economic anguish. The province’s unemployment rate is the highest outside Atlantic Canada; a cabinet OK on Kinder Morgan won’t raise the price of oil, but advocates hope it sparks investor confidence that costly oil sands expansions won’t be bottlenecked, with only costly and less safe rail as the alternative. “If we can’t develop at least some additional pipelines to get our oil and gas to market, Canadians will lose jobs, face a lower dollar and have to find other sectors to tax if we want to cover the costs of health and education, and so much more,” Royal Bank CEO Dave McKay said in Edmonton this week.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley arrives for a meeting of provincial premiers in Whitehorse, Yukon, Thursday, July, 21, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley arrives for a meeting of provincial premiers in Whitehorse, Yukon, Thursday, July, 21, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley has taken a different approach from her conservative forebears as well. She avoids public spats with environmental hardliners and brusqueness from the likes of Coderre; she leaves those volleys to the Wildrose opposition and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, and sometimes Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Notley’s approach has been the carrot: a climate change plan highlighted by an economy-wide carbon tax and megatonnage cap on oil sands emissions. She bid to capture environmentalists’ respect—Mahon stood on stage at the plan’s launch—and remove two arrows from the anti-pipeline quiver: that oil sands pollution would grow unfettered as the province dragged its knuckles on climate action.

It didn’t convert Mahon’s group; she applauds the Notley plan, but says there’s so much else to loathe about the pipeline, like spill threat and impact on marine life.

Meanwhile, this new Indigenous alliance uses the more derogatory term “tar sands,” and the no-more-pipelines Leap Manifesto has since found partial support within the federal NDP. “These things don’t happen overnight. The way they change is through subtle shifts in tone and that’s what I think we’re seeing,” Notley tells Maclean’s. “Will all people be completely cool? No. Are we getting closer to a point where a critical mass of people are sufficiently cool? I think maybe.”

With the December cabinet decision on Trans Mountain fast approaching, Trudeau does not have the luxury of waiting for subtle shifts. His government has already angered B.C. Indigenous and eco groups this week by endorsing a $11.4-billion liquefied natural gas project on the North Coast, after saying yes to the controversial Site C hydro dam in August.

Meanwhile, the bullhorns continue to blare from the debates’ edges. Quebec and B.C. Indigenous leaders have linked arms to amp up political pressure, while the oil lobby has been trying to put its proud, pan-Canadian hand up for a while. The sector’s main advocacy group, CAPP, has long been broadcasting ads urging “energy citizens” to hold balanced discussions, with images of smiling people’s hands encircled by white maple leaves.

The voice for more junior and mid-size players, the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drillers and Contractors (CAODC), has gone punchier: its Oil Respect campaign demands Canadians stand up for hard-working families in what its website—in English only—calls the “most regulated and technologically advanced industries in the world.”

One campaign graphic criticizes Quebec for importing 90 per cent of its oil, much of it from “corrupt regimes” like Algeria. But if Oil Respect is trying to persuade Québécois, it’s doing so without a French website. “Oil Respect is a grassroots campaign. It’s on a shoestring budget from our association,” says CAODC president Mark Scholz.

NEB filings for Trans Mountain show that among the 97 B.C. Indigenous communities Kinder consulted along and around the route of pipe and tankers, at least two dozen wrote letters of support or have agreements with the pipeline company, although Kinder could not fully confirm Maclean’s list. Twenty-six of those bands were early signatories to the new anti-pipeline treaty. Three bands managed to show up on both lists: supporting Trans Mountain and opposing it and its tubular cousins. Two of them said they were added to the anti-oil treaty as a misunderstanding.

“I didn’t know we were opposed,” said Seabird Island Band Chief Clem Seymour, when first asked about the pact. “Kinder Morgan, we’ve always worked with them. We were talking to them about fixing the past relationship.”

Fundamentally, the process by which pipelines are approved hasn’t changed at all since the election of the Liberal government. What has changed are expectations. Whereas Kanesatake Chief Simon pronounces Stephen Harper’s name as though it were a bad taste in his mouth, he says he respects Trudeau. “I think he’s trying to find a balance between the special interests in the oil industry and the needs of Indigenous people,” Simon says. Ultimately, though, “Trudeau has to respect my right to say ‘no.’ ”

It is a word Trudeau, and the rest of Canada, may have to get used to.


Why Trudeau and the oil industry are losing the pipeline battle

  1. The Kinder Morgan pipeline has to be stopped, because there is no equipment to clean-up a toxic, tar sands spill. A spill from Kinder Morgan’s pipeline down into the Fraser River watershed will kill 90% of British Columbia’s sport and commercial salmon industries. To understand the destructiveness of a tar sands spill, Google and read, “Michigan oil spill effects to be repeated here,” by Michelle Barlond-Smith. Piping the tar sands through BC is a stupid idea to begin with. Even if, the clean-up equipment did exist, how would Kinder Morgan get the equipment to the spill site on time to prevent another Enbridge, Kalamazoo River disaster from happening in the Fraser River? No tar sands for BC. Let’s keep beautiful British Columbia.

  2. Those who opposes Energy East may well be in the right. But our aboriginal communities seem to oppose everything. All energy, pipeline, mine and dam developments are stymied by native groups apparently seeking revenge on their fellow Canadians. They don’t want the benefits regional economic development might bring, and why should they? First Nations enjoy state welfare and seem content with that.

    • Every Canadian owes a debt of gratitude to the Indigenous groups across our country who have worked so hard to protect the environment, especially when many people have turned a blind eye to what has been continuing to happen. Poisoning/killing water, land, air, and animals in the name of greed and control (masquerading as so-called ‘progress’) is a tragedy, plain and simple. Clinging to old outdated energy ideas is like trying to believe the world is flat when it’s not, and the natives can see the writing on the wall far in advance. If people only knew the long-term repercussions and undertood the boiling frog syndrome we collectively display (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyBKz1wdK0M)

      • The natives deserve what they are getting. Most of them couldn’t live off the land if they had to. No one is forcing them to live where they are. Their refusal to come into the 21st century is a testament to their insistence on living off the public dime. I for one am sick of it. They made their bed they can sleep in it.

        • What an incredibly unsubstantiated and bad faith comment you make regarding our First Nations people. They deserve our respect as they are the only ones standing up to the special interests that threaten the health and sustainability of our fresh water, fish habitats, etc. “No one is forcing them to live where they are”…???Seriously???

          • What is unsubstantiated?? We all know it is true. I think 250+ years of offering them a hand up is enough. I was born in Canada, just like all of the present generation of “First Nations” people. The present system is racist by definition: if you have certain DNA, you get certain benefits that others don’t get. And the First Nations are no more or less protective of the environment than any other Canadian. It’s all about getting a share of the profits for doing nothing. Enough money… they’ll give their blessing.

  3. Somewhat off topic, but what’s the argument for opposing the LNG pipleline? Wouldn’t a spill just result in the liquefied natural gas quickly evaporating into the atmosphere and dispersing?

    • Construction of the terminal/plant itself will devastate the Skeena river salmon and steelhead populations. The Skeena is what the Fraser River used to be – one of the most productive fish-bearing streams on the planet.

      • “Construction of the terminal/plant itself will devastate the Skeena river salmon and steelhead populations” is a very definitive statement. I’d suggest that if it were that definitive the project would not have been given a green light as salmon is an important part of the BC economy.

        I imagine there would be risks involved, and the question then becomes how manageable are the risks.

  4. A good portion of this battle is being lost because most people have a very small window through which they view the energy industry. When they cringe at the cost of filling their car, they often have no idea that the most “profitable” sector that shares a slice of every dollar they pay at the pump is government. Sure, there are profits siphoned off at several junctures between the oil well and the local gas station, but each of those profiteers has incurred risk in order to deliver that product further up the chain. Governments have incurred no risk, and reap greater profits than any other player in that complex process.
    Yet, what do we see happening? Governments making it increasingly difficult to find, extract, and deliver a product that none of us can do without, and upon which every government in Canada relies for substantial sums of scarce tax dollars.
    Few people have a good understanding of the thousands of products that are also created from that great spin-off industry that is petrochemicals. There is tremendous irony in that in any given week, maybe even daily or even hourly, someone who supports groups trying to kill off the oil industry will have their life saved by a chemical compound that can only be created by a thriving petrochemical industry. There are chemotherapy drugs that can only come into existence as by-products of certain petrochemical plastic processes. The list of vital petro products that most people have no inkling that they come from oil is staggering.
    Then there is the tremendous flow of tax dollars just from the profits and wages of the oil industry and those connected to it. It is the height of irony, hypocrisy really, for any native group in Canada to be opposed to any resource development. Any native group opposed to resource development should be automatically required to return all federal money flowing into their jurisdictions. Without industry, there are no tax dollars to be distributed. Many native groups get that. Some don’t. Worse, many who do understand it simply don’t care. They are nothing more than rent seekers at the public trough, and deserve nothing but scorn.
    The worst problem though, is the lack of effort of the media to even try and do a decent job of examining the failures of so-called “green energy”, even when the evidence is so easy to find. many of us know that part of it is ideologically driven. Too often, senior media types want so desperately to buy into the utopian vision of a ‘carbon free” future that they are willing to suspend their disbelief in the claims of green activists. That, and the fact that they often lack the ability to grasp technical esoterica, and have little desire to do so.
    How many writers from Maclean’s, for example, have dived into the morass of Ontario’s wind power debacle, and examined how little energy Ontarians actually put to use making value-added products, or even simply heating their homes for the dollars they have put in? How many have actually mapped out a wind farm big enough to actually power a simple steel mill, let alone a city of 50,000 or more? How many writers have gone down to Oshawa or Brampton and talked to a senior powertrain engineer (at GM, Ford, or Chrysler) and discussed the realities of meeting ever more costly and stringent emissions standards at ever more diminishing returns for the dollar spent, and then translated that into real dollar figures that the consumer can relate to? Howe many writers have driven out to the prairies and taken a long hard look at a wind farm, and then related how that wind power generation facility ingests tax dollars that are diverted from schools, hospitals, courts, and roads (and in turn distributes those tax dollars to the shareholders of wind farms) while lowly pump jacks whir away in obscurity, steadily pumping energy and tax dollars out of the ground and into the pipes that will take the oil to be turned into lubricating oil, gasoline, plastics, medicines, fertilizers, paints, construction materials and so on and so forth.
    There should be no respect accorded to those who claim to oppose the energy industry who are not prepared to live without ANY of the benefits that industry provides, whether it’s in the form of tax dollars or the use of any of the myriad of other products that are created from oil and gas.

    • “Governments making it increasingly difficult to find, extract, and deliver a product that none of us can do without, and upon which every government in Canada relies for substantial sums of scarce tax dollars.” Biased to petroleum are we? The alternatives such as Low Energy Nuclear Reaction(LENR) has been retarded by interests in the hotfusion and oil industries, because of the threat LENR presented to them. On May 4, the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services directed the Secretary of Defense to provide a briefing on low-energy nuclear reactions (LENRs). The briefing was to occur by Sept. 22. Several news outlets, including New Scientist and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. This has been postponed. USA can’t decide what is more important, environment or private interest?

      • LENR (Cold fusion) is a topic of research, not understood, may not be real, and is not presently an alternative source of energy. Any kind of fusion as a source of energy is usually believed to be 30 years in the future, and perhaps always will be.

        • There are many urban myth against LENR.
          LENR is very probably not yet industrial ready (my only short term hope is Brillouin), but as scientific phenomenon is its very replicated, and established.
          US Navy NRL, ENEA, Texas TTU, Missouri SKINR, Japanese Tohoku, Toyota Technova and MHI, work on it
          formerly US Navy Spawar, , Nasa GRC, Indian BARC, Shell via Franch CNAM, have also done replication and various research…
          There is no validated theory (it seems far), which today mean people cannot accept experimental results.

          People interested in the subject should document instead of repeating Caltech failures and Wikipedia groupthink.

          There are bootstrap document.
          One is Excess Heat by Charles Beaudette book for history. The science of LENR by Edmund Storms is perfect for scientific generalities.
          Current Science special issue on LENR (Feb 2015), and Naturwissenschaften “Status of cold fusion 2010” are reference document which have been peer reviewed and whose best quality is to cite good papers.

          From data I have, hot fusion is still 50 years away like it was 50 years ago.

          Cold fusion progress depend on the groupthink and reputation trap, as visible here, which is blocking research funding. With good funding as some private investors (Bill Gates with TTU/Seashore Research, Tom Darden despire his failure with rossi), China’s governement recently (news from SS-ICCF20 yesterday), Japanese NEDO (check coming ICCF20 in Tohoku this week), Italian ENEA, I can hope the following timeline :
          5 years to make good experiments with modern instrumentation as we see in nanotechnology and to produce a fairly coherent theory able to inspire engineers.
          then 5 years to launch a first line of product targeted on heat applications in heavy contexts.
          then 10 years for a full transition until fossil and fission become absurd even to use.

          Anyway as long as the groupthink is enforced in research budget it can last eternally, centuries like with germs theory as identified by Oliver Gordon then Semmelweis and if perfect statistic evidences until the chemist Pasteur make the perfect PR and won the mind and the hearts.

  5. shld even b having this battle.. #climate #paris etc.

    • If First Nations had to work for a living instead of enjoying handouts from the taxes of those who do, they might not be so keen to destroy the petroleum industry.

  6. What this PC effed up country needs to happen to it is that someone needs to shut the tap off for just one week. See what happens. The left wing environmental nutballs will be killing each because they can’t start their 4 engine 747’s. The liberals in Ontario are starting to realize that the population is starting to catch on to their BS. They will pay for it in 2018, likewise for PM Pinocchio and his band of brainless nitwits that occupy the legislature in Ottawa. Here’s hoping. Don’t blame me I didn’t vote for them.

  7. ‘ the more derogatory term “tar sands,” ‘ That’s the more accurate term! The industry has tried with some success to pull this PR stunt but the fact remains that bitumen and crude oil are two different things, importantly different in composition therefore only usable to a small number of refineries, density therefore it sinks rather than floats when spilled in water and viscosity therefore it requires a diluent and/or heat in order to be flowed. This false equivalent has also been extended to pipelines where they commonly say that pipelines transporting dilbit are transporting crude oil – not true and the cost of cleaning up a spill is at least 6 times as much as for crude oil. It seems that the media has been totally coopted by this ruse. The fact that they went there says nothing about the pros and cons of dilbit pipelines but the fundamental dishonesty of the terminology used by proponents must cast suspicion on their entire brief.

    • “Tar Sands” is NOT more accurate. Tar is a manufactured product, and does not occur naturally. “Oil sands” is also not strictly accurate. They are actually “Bituminous Sands”. All three terms have, and are, used interchangeably in the oil industry. It was the environmental movement that started using “Tar Sands” exclusively as a derogatory PR term. It was in response to this that the energy industry started using “Oil Sands” exclusively, It was backlash to the environmental hijacking of semantics -not the other way around.
      You cannot say that bitumen and oil are two different things. No two natural oils are exactly the same. The majority of natural oil is biodegraded to some extent, and there is a continuous gradient in composition from natural gas to condensate to light oil to heavy oil to extra heavy oil (bitumen). Most refineries are optimised for a certain grade and composition of oil. So, yes, there are only a certain number of refineries that handle bitumen, but that is true for any grade of oil. Doesn’t mean that a refinery can’t be modified to handle a different grade of oil, -it’s done all the time.
      And you are right: pure bitumen with API gravity of less than 10 will sink in fresh water. But diluted
      bitumen will float until the volatile components evaporate. But that is also true for light oil, which one can think of as naturally diluted. Once the volatile light ends of conventional crude oil evaporate, the remaining heavy components will sink. That’s what happened with the BP Deep Horizon spill. Arguably, if it didn’t sink, a floating spill would be much more devastating.
      Had to have my say on this topic, because most commenters have no idea what they are talking about.

  8. “If we can’t develop at least some additional pipelines to get our oil and gas to market, Canadians will lose jobs, face a lower dollar and have to find other sectors to tax if we want to cover the costs of health and education, and so much more,” – total none sense! The existing pipelines support the existing level of employment. This statement even contradicts the claim elsewhere that new pipelines will create new jobs. It also suggests that the existing oil industry will stop paying taxes if they don’t get increased pipeline capacity (blackmail approach?). This argument is further contradicted by the fact that existing oil pipeline capacity is underutilized.

  9. When people speak of encouraging economic growth they are not referring to keeping their opulent houses with a garage full of fancy SUVs and toys.
    They are referring to having a country whose economic engine can maintain a lifestyle so comfortable we can entertain a serious discussion regarding keeping our energy rich lifestyle while not polluting the planet.
    Ours is probably the fourth or fifth generation in the entire history of humanity where we feel so comfortable we can have these discussions. And that is only exists in the first world. When you and your family are short 500 calories a day in food intake you don’t have much appetite to save the planet.
    Derail the economy and derail any chance you have to map out humanity’s next energy future.

  10. • With the price of oil so cheap from Saudi Arabia why buy Alberta crude?
    One notable exception from the Arab Spring uprisings was Saudi Arabia. This was by no accident and avoidance of it was achieved without applying any extra amount of Government force than the Saudi government already uses. It was achieved by buying its population.
    Freebies in Saudi Arabia include education and healthcare. There is also subsidized water and electricity. There is currently no income tax. Almost 90% of Saudis are employed by the government where the wages are typically better than in the private sector. All of this is based on $80 a barrel prices. With oil price at its current level the Saudi government is estimated to blow through its reserves of cash within four years. Faster it the price of oil drops more.
    While Saudi Arabia has avoided major trouble in the past they are now facing a very real possibility of destabilization.
    Current and past Canadian governments know this (Or ought to have known it) as this information and more is readily available. Our previous government didn’t do anything about it and our current government has offered no roadmap to avoid the problem or even admits that it exists.
    Our past government is gone and our current government says it won’t play referee with pipeline approvals.
    Regardless of what the current price of oil is (And it won’t be at its current price forever) building a pipeline extension while energy is cheap, steal is available, no government money is required, and the necessary personal are unemployed makes perfect sense. Coupled with the fact that Saudi Arabia is in real threat of destabilizing (In a region already in crisis) to not build the pipeline now would come with substantial risks for Canada.
    Whatever the problems are currently in Alberta they are pretty mild compared to an Arab Spring part II.
    • But pipelines fail and I am able to cite a recent example(s).
    Yes pipelines fail. Everything fails actually. Mechanically, electronically, structurally, everything will at some point fail. Even people fail. Sorry to wreck your day.
    If you are going to be in the energy game of a modern society (Either renewable or non-renewable) then you have to accept the fact that nothing is 100% fail safe. Energy is a hard and dangerous business. We live our lives with the benefits and the drawbacks. It doesn’t mean you like it but that is the reality. And unless you are willing (Or society is willing) to go back 400 years in history then you better adopt a realistic expectation of what that means.
    The measure of success of what is the safest method of how to transport oil or gas is this. Which method has the fewest failures adjusted for the volume of product transported. Using this measure pipeline is the clear winner by a substantial margin.
    650, 000 barrels of foreign oil arrive on the east coast by freighter every day at a greater risk of failure than if the same amount of crude arrived by pipeline from Alberta. It’s your choice which one you want. Any third choice that doesn’t involve the use of hydrocarbons is being held up by decades of reality and a lack of a legitimate road map that gets you there. Saying no to a pipeline and ignoring the foreign freighters doesn’t do anything to accelerate the process. In fact it holds it up.
    Any legitimate road map to our next energy future must come from industry, government, and consumer inputs. This is what must be demanded from industry, our federal energy minister, and our consumer groups. Having a media that knows how to report on this wouldn’t hurt either.

  11. Tar Sands is not a derogatory term, it is actually the scientifically correct term… Oil Sands was a term coined by the oil industry to seem less offensive, in effect trying to fool the public about what it really is, a very dirty form of fossil fuel extraction.

    • Nonsense. Tar is a manufactured product, originally from wood or coal. It is similar to bitumen in that it is black and viscous. So is melted licorice. That being said, yes, “Tar sands” has been been used for a long time to describe the bitumen deposits of Alberta, But so has “Oil sands” which is somewhat more “scientifically correct” as you say. Even more scientifically correct is “Bituminous Sands”. All three terms have been used interchangeably in Alberta for 100 years. “Oil Sands” was not “coined” by the petroleum industry to seem “less offensive”. It has been used forever. You show your own bias by saying the extraction of bitumen is “dirty”. That is a purely emotional term coined by the ignorant anti-oil mob of which you seem to be a part of. Any resource is no more dirty or clean than any other.

  12. Its a toss up between the future of the environment or jobs and money, taxes. In the long run the environment is more important for everyone. That being said there are emerging technologies like Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) that can, if allowed by the vested interests, to replace oil and all other forms of costly power. Besides the environment, the long term freedom to independence in terms of energy is good for everyone. Unless someone taxes everything else to recover the taxes lost when oil and the other forms of costly power re no longer able to be metered.

    • LENR as an energy source does not exist

  13. after we get through the vituperative and hateful comments regarding the native people and the lefties we are left with a few salient points and good comment regarding the geopolitics of the Arab world and the oil industry and also the environment. what is missing is the fact that the world has now seeing over 400 ppm carbon in the atmosphere and accelerating climate change. the real problem is the long term unsustainable consumption of carbon for our energy needs. that is the problem we must address by changing our lifestyle. and more pipelines predicated on more consumption is just playing ostrich.
    when the Keystone pipeline was proposed I asked why are the refineries in Canada being shut down so refining jobs and money goes abroad. the BC pipelines are more of the same.
    in the short run I want long term jobs producing the final product to stay in Canada. 33 jobs from a pipeline in Quebec is a joke! let’s have hundreds/thousands of jobs in Alberta/Canada refining our crude and building the green energy infrastructure. and in the long term I want us to reduce dependency on carbon as the primary energy source for society.