November 09, 2017

Trans Mountain: Let’s get this done

 

When the Trans Mountain Pipeline started operating in 1953, Canadian oil finally displaced oil that mainly came from the United States. The pipeline made Canada stronger in addition to creating jobs and economic benefits for generations.  

The opportunity to expand the Trans Mountain Pipeline is equally historic and will provide jobs and economic benefits for generations to come. When history renders a final judgment on this antagonistic era of Canadian energy development, it will likely hinge on what happens with the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

With the Energy East Pipeline now added to the long list of failed Canadian energy megaprojects and serious doubts arising over this country’s ability to build anything that crosses a border, the spotlight on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) has intensified. 

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The $7.4-billion Trans Mountain Expansion Project promises to triple the capacity of the 1,150-kilometre Edmonton-to-Burnaby pipeline, allowing Canadian product to fetch higher prices in new markets and ending our reliance on American customers. Currently, 99% of Canada’s energy exports end up south of the border getting sold at discount prices.  

And that isn’t something we should be proud of. We shouldn’t leave future generations with only one market (the United States) for our product. 

Energy development opponents no doubt see Trans Mountain as the next hill to conquer and, quite possibly, the most consequential. The defeat of yet another federally approved energy project with billions in private capital already sunk into it could very well be the clinching signal to investors that these projects simply can’t proceed in Canada. 

On Saturday, dozens of kayaks [which are made using petroleum products] entered Burrard Inlet to protest the construction of the marine terminal in Burnaby, BC. It was the latest in a series of demonstrations against the project, which the National Energy Board (NEB) approved in May of 2016 and the federal government officially endorsed six months later. 

But TMX opposition certainly isn’t confined to the protestor set. Despite successfully withstanding the NEB’s regulatory approval process, BC’s new NDP government has made no secret of its intentions to do “everything in its power” to stop the pipeline and the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby - along with a small number of First Nations communities - have launched a legal battle to stop it. 

The City of Burnaby, in fact, has so far refused to issue construction permits to Kinder Morgan, prompting the company to formally ask the NEB to override Burnaby’s intransigence and allow construction to proceed. 

"A delay of an indeterminate nature will create uncertainty regarding the project's future and the in-service date of the project, potentially resulting in the failure of the project," Kinder Morgan said in an affidavit filed with the NEB. 

That quote should light a fire in the hearts of every Canadian who sees the value of our energy industry. 

Our energy industry is important for our country and our future, and we must be vocal today in support of it.  

While it’s true that Trans Mountain’s failure would be devastating, its success would be rejuvenating.  

If we can manage to hold off TMX’s opponents and see the project through to completion and operation, we would send the message to the world that Canadian energy is still a safe investment. 

We would reverse some of the damage done by the Energy East and Pacific Northwest LNG debacles. We would stem the tide that has washed away so many promising energy projects and claim the upper hand in the ongoing debate over Canada’s energy future. 

This is a project that Canadians and British Columbians support. Recent polling shows that 52% of British Columbians support the project, while only 26% oppose. Trans Mountain has also received support from many Aboriginal groups along the Project corridor including Letters of Support from Aboriginal communities most impacted by the Project and located close to the right-of-way.  And while opposition from Burnaby has been vocal, many more local governments are in support.  Trans Mountain has signed Community Benefits Agreements with local governments along 95% of its pipeline route that will see $8.6 million worth of funding for local, community projects.  This on top of the nearly doubling of local taxes, including taxes to the City of Burnaby that the expansion will bring. We need to be vocal and support the moderate voices that want to see this project through. 

In this regard, Trans Mountain may very well be Canada’s last hope to establish itself as the world’s energy supplier of choice - and that’s why what happens with it over the coming weeks and months is so crucial. 

As an Energy Citizen, you have a role to play to help get Trans Mountain over the finish line. 

Share this blog. Share our pipelines petition. Be heard in the conversation. Tell your Member of Parliament to make sure Trans Mountain becomes reality. There’s no shortage of ways you can voice your support. And we need you now more than ever.