Where have all the pipelines gone?

Dan Gagnier of Justin Trudeau’s election team was the only person in the federal election campaign without the political smarts to stay away from pipeline questions. And the TransCanada people who asked Gagnier how to lobby a new government must have been impatiently stupid. There is plenty of time during the transition to the new government for questions such as that.

What is also stupid is the basic question of pipelines themselves. Canadian experience with pipelines for transmitting gas and crude oil long distances has been good. Sure, we have had some spills but gas and crude oil are known quantities and can be cleaned up by the pipeline companies.

What we have to remember is that today these companies are lying about the product, the destination, the safety and the clean-up problems of a spill. These new or retro-fitted pipelines across British Columbia, east across Canada or south across the United States are to carry diluted bitumen from the tar sands. And this stuff should not be shipped.

Those old gas and crude pipelines (with some new sections) are to be used to carry this bitumen mix at high temperatures (to keep it fluid) under higher pressures (to move more) to export points—to ship it to countries that do not give a damn about global warming.

What they do not tell you is that the refining of this bitumen into synthetic oil is the most polluting process of all. If the contents of the Kinder-Morgan twin pipelines alone were processed in B.C. the wind-swept pollution over the Rockies would cut a swath of destruction all the way to Manitoba. We would have a lot less wheat to sell and the City of Calgary would have an entirely new definition of a Chinook.

What the new government really has to do is accept the resignations of the entire National Energy Board, move the headquarters out of Calgary and choose replacements for the Board who care about our country and our environment. We must have fair and open review of these pipeline proposals—without the flagrant and insidious pandering to politicians by paid lobbyists.

Hopefully American President Obama will put an end to TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline that exemplified the problem. We can also hope that the Americans also smarten up about the destructive nature of the diluted bitumen that Enbridge is shipping though the U.S. these days.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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