By Roy L Hales
Though some are shocked by revelations that the Prime Minister has made the Energy East and Trans Mountain pipeline projects a priority, this is not inconsistent with the views he has expressed in the past. Trudeau has not deceived us.
How can we limit the global rise of average temperatures to 1.5 degrees and ramp up oil production?
Does it make sense to increase oil production when there is no visible end of the global oil glut in sight?
Is forcing oil infrastructure upon resistant communities, like Vancouver and Burnaby, comparable with the idea of obtaining social license?
Trudeau Has Not Deceived Us
Justin Trudeau’s answers to those questions are a matter of public record:
He proclaimed his support for the Keystone XL project during a visit to Washington in 2013, adding, “It’s important that we get our resources to market, but it’s also important that we understand that it’s not just up to governments to grant permits anymore. We have to get communities to grant permission and that’s something that we need to spend more time focusing on.”
In January 2014, Trudeau endorsed both the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and Energy East pipeline projects, providing they “can be done is a responsible fashion.”
Few concerned British Columbians would describe the National Energy Board’s hearings on the Trans Mountain pipeline as “responsible.”
The pipeline ends in Burnaby, at which point the diluted bitumen is loaded onto tankers.
Vancouver, North Vancouver and Victoria, which are along the tanker route, joined with Burnaby in voicing their objections to this project.
Vancouver City Councillor Andrea Reimer recently described it as “way too much risk, no benefit (for Vancouver), on a planet that is dying because we are burning fossil fuels.”
“There’s not a country in the world that would find 170 billion barrels of oil under the ground and leave them there,” Trudeau told a Calgary audience in October 2012.
Now an article in the National Post says “people with knowledge of the matter suggest he has recently issued instructions that a pipeline strategy has to be top priority.”
“All of the Above”
How did so many of us not see this coming?
Just prior to the First Minister’s Conference in Vancouver, Trudeau announced that new pipelines will finance the nation’s transition to a greener future.
He appears to be undertaking an “all of the above” strategy, similar to that which has seen the U.S. build out its’ renewable infrastructure during a period of record oil production.
The United States has made progress tackling its’ emissions with this idea. The New Climate Economy Report 2016 points to a 10% reduction in energy-related CO2 emissions, during a period (2005-2013), when domestic product increased 11% .
However the report adds that “more will be necessary to reach the 2020 target and then to achieve the even more rapid emissions reductions needed thereafter to keep global temperature rise below 2°C.”
Ignoring the protests of environmentalists and local communities, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna recently rubber stamped her “environmental decision” for the proposed Woodfibre LNG project.
Now Trudeau wants to go forward on both Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project.
Despite its’ stated goal of reducing its’ emissions, the Canadian Government’s priority appears to be is capitalizing on potential fossil fuel revenues.
This would appear to involve a gamble that the dire predictions being made by many climate scientists are wrong.
Trudeau said as much while visiting Washington, in 2013, when endorsing the Keystone XL project as “not as bad as it’s been caricatured.”
Photo Credit: Pipeline by jasonwoodhead23 via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)