Canada is drowning in pipeline proposals...

by streetleaf on November 25, 2016 - 8:04pm

“Here are the major Canadian pipelines the oil patch wants built” – this article instantly caught my eye as its difficult these days to keep up with the continuous output of environmentally degrading project proposals. This article, written by Christopher Adams in the National Observer, was written in the September of this year and summarises and analyzes all the pipeline projects currently happening in Canada. As you read the article, you cannot help but to notice several reoccurring themes. The first: lawsuits. A lawsuit if the pipeline is denied, a lawsuit if the pipeline is approved, a lawsuit towards the government, a lawsuit towards a company responsible. Another reoccurring theme: pipelines being built on aboriginal peoples lands- environmental racism and a continuum of behavioural conflict between First Nations communities and the government. And finally, spotty environmental assessment or scientific discontent with the environmental assessment process. The entirety of the pipeline proposal process is a messy one and right now it seems we can’t manage to make a new mess before cleaning up an old one.

The article outline eight active pipeline projects: Northern Gateway, Energy East, Keystone XL, Trans Mountain, Pacific Northwest LNG, Eagle Mountain-Woodfibre gas pipeline and LNG facility, Line 9B and Line 3. The first introduced, the Northern Gateway, was a slight win for aboriginal groups as even though the project was approved, after an appeal from several first nations communities, the court rejected the government’s approval as they failed to consult with aboriginal peoples affected in the area. The energy East expansion will bring it from crossing four provinces to crossing six, adding in Quebec and New Brunswick. This project has been so heavily protested that hearings surrounding it have been cancelled due to disruption from protestors. Keystone XL is the only international pipeline as it has been proposed by TransCanada to dip into the United States. This pipeline is being proposed (and will degrade the environment) just for the increased efficiency of oil transportation, as there is already a pipeline to Steele City, Nebraska from Alberta- which is apparently not direct enough. Obama rejected this pipeline, but TransCanada has fought back with a lawsuit challenging unequable treatment under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Kinder Morgan is the trans-mountain pipeline which aims to triple the capacity of oil transported and therefore triple the amount of tankers in Burrard Inlet, Vancouver. It will also be crossing through Burnaby conservation area in Vancouver. A project that has truly broken my heart is the Pacific Northwest LNG. It is a liquefaction/export facility/pipeline project which will be situated on Lelu Island in BC. Lelu Island is at the mouth of the Skeena River, which is BC’s second largest salmon bearing river.  When it is constructed it will account for roughly 87% of BC’s target emissions for 2050 (Pembia Institute, 2016). The environmental assessment for this project has been questioned by 130 scientists as it has five areas of concern – why is this acceptable?

 Though we cannot seem avoid pipelines with our current resource dependent “staples” economy, I believe that we need to continue to fight back pipeline proposals and pressure our government to make more sustainable energy choices. The changes to the CEAA with Bill-38 have also made it incredibly difficult for many of the environmental assessments of these pipelines to be truly viable. The CEAA has been “streamlined” to take place under shorter time constraints, where not all required research can be carried out. There is limited public participation now, which negatively effects many communities. Living in Haida Gwaii for six months, I was able to observe PNW LNG opposition first hand. The First Nations peoples on the island are nervous for the degradation of the oceanic environment and the salmon populations which are a huge part of their traditions and culture. I believe that we need to start redirecting energy projects towards more sustainable, green energy. We also need to become more conscious of environmental racism as a nation, because with further research into current Canadian projects, it is clear that this is a huge issue. I hope that through increased awareness and social media coverage, citizens will be more educated and involved in upcoming pipeline projects and choose to protest against them.

 

Citations

Adams, C. (2016). Here are the major Canadian pipelines the oil patch wants built. Retrieved November 23, 2016, from http://www.nationalobserver.com/2016/09/22/analysis/here-are-major-canad...

CBC NEWS. (2016). Lelu Island LNG environmental assessment questioned by 130 scientists -      British Columbia - CBC News. Retrieved November 22, 2016, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/lelu-island-lng-environme...

 

 

Comments

Hi streetleaf,

Pipeline discussions are always very interesting to me, and one of the things that bothers me the most is how people don’t realize how much oil we actually use. Nearly everything you interact with on a daily basis involves oil in some way or form - and this is what most people don’t think about. We can’t just deny all pipelines everywhere simply because people cannot give up oil, it just won’t happen. Instead, I believe that the best thing we can do is make the pipelines as safe as possible and make the entire operation as environmentally friendly as possible. In other words, the benefits (from oil) already outweigh the costs (on the environment/people) but we simply need to increase on those benefits and decrease those costs.

Using renewable/sustainable/green energy sources is however where most people agree in this situation, myself included. You make some strong arguments regarding this particular issue.

I’m not saying I’m pro-environmental degradation, I’m just saying we won’t give up oil, and we can always improve on the processes involving it.

Great post!

Additionally, I’m almost certain the Trans Mountain Pipeline already runs through Burnaby conservation area, as the proposed project is just increasing it’s capacity.

Thanks for the comment! The current Kinder Morgan pipeline actually just scrapes around the edge of Burnaby Conservation Area... here is a map of the existing and proposed pipeline. https://www.wildernesscommittee.org/sites/all/files/KMpipelineroute_Burn...
Any kind of construction such as this will pose a disturbance on the ecosystem and for a conservation area in a populous area, this could be incredibly detrimental to the health of the ecosystem.

I completely agree that we should work to improve on the process of oil but by tripling the amount of oil coming out of Edmonton, won't this just perpetuate the oil business? I believe that the approval of Kinder Morgan was a huge mistake in this regard. We need to limit the amount of oil that we can export to pressure our nation into finding "greener" alternatives.