Devolving Deception.

When responsibilities are passed to a lower level (devolved), it helps to have a glossary of terms available so that the lesser levels will get their words right. It seems that Toronto Star writer David Olive has stuck carefully to this glossary in his story on the weekend touting the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Olive hits just the right note in his puff piece when he starts with concern that the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion over the Rocky Mountains will never be built. And to drive home his concern, he calls it an “oil” pipeline. Never once in 87 centimetres of copy does he refer to the bitumen the expanded pipeline is designed to carry to tidewater on the B.C. coast.

Olive is concerned that the lack of the expanded pipeline will do serious damage to Canada. He is worried that Kinder Morgan has suspended work on the Texas company’s $7 billion pipeline expansion.

He refers to the to the Alberta tar sands product as being landlocked. This is despite the coming availability of TransCanada Pipeline’s Keystone XL that President Trump has insisted be built with its access to the Texas gulf ports. There is also the already approved replacement of Enbridge Line 3 to Superior, Wisconsin (despite meeting some resistance in Minnesota) also offers possible access for bitumen to the Great Lakes. And let us not forget the 300,000 barrels per day that can already be shipped through the existing Kinder Morgan line to Burrard Inlet.

We are not really clear if the Kinder Morgan expansion to high-pressure, heated bitumen through the new dual system at almost 900,000 barrels per day is based on need or greed.

For all the weeping and wailing of Alberta and federal politicians, nobody wants to explain publicly why the Alberta companies do not want to convert their bitumen to synthetic crude oil in Alberta.

Olive seems to have the idea that the Athabasca tar sands product would not be discounted the way it is today if the company could just get it to third world customers who are not worried about its excessive polluting. You would expect that any country with the expertise to refine bitumen into synthetic crude oil would also have the knowledge that bitumen costs more to refine and creates serious amounts of highly polluting bitumen slag in the process.

He goes on to compare the tar sands output to Maya crude from Mexico. Maya crude might have many impurities but it is still crude oil, not bitumen.

Our advice to Mr. Olive is that, before he writes more on this complex subject, he read more than the tar sands producers’ handouts.

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