Should the Province of Alberta buy the Trans Mountain Pipeline from Kinder-Morgan if they want to walk away from the project?  That question was posed to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley today and she responded with an emphatic ‘Yes!’.

It has become abundantly clear, whether you are for or opposed to this particular pipeline or not, that having the relatively simple twinning of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline fail to be built would signify the end of even medium scale infrastructure projects in Canada.

kinder-morgan-trans-mountain-pipeline-mapThere will always be interest groups and affected people that have some legitimate claim against a large project.  The standard for projects should not be keeping everyone happy.  The standard for infrastructure projects MUST be if they are in the national interest.  That national interest contains a giant list important factors including:

  • environmental concerns
  • affected citizens needs and wants
  • global competitiveness concerns
  • financial concerns
  • public safety

where-canada-gets-its-foreign oilThe Energy East pipeline was irrationally killed by a Montreal Mayor who was apparently unaware of the massive amounts of actually dangerous oil that is being imported into Quebec from dirty and environmentally uncaring countries all the way on the other side of the globe.  Other pipelines and large scale projects have had insane hurdles put in front of them.  If Canada wants to be a first world country we need these projects to:

  • be rationally environmentally evaluated and adjusted
  • go through rational consultation process with affected stake holders
  • be processed into a ‘yeah’ or ‘neigh’ in a rational amount of time (which we suggest is less than 18 months)

The new Trans Mountain pipeline project is a twinning of an existing line so the environmental impacts are just slightly more than negligible.  Kinder-Morgan has spent years in pre-approval processes, real consultation, official approval processes, legal fights, and making concessions to get it built.

If this repeatedly approved expansion can’t get built the capital flight from Canada will leave a huge sucking sound as it races for other countries where projects can get constructed.  That would mean a serious stagnation of Canada’s core infrastructure, including new or expanded:

  • highways
  • railways
  • power lines
  • non-oil & gas pipelines

Beyond infrastructure needs, such a collapse would also negatively affect Canadian citizens:

  • pension plans
  • investment opportunities
  • employment opportunities

The Canadian standard of living would take a notable hit, tens of thousands of jobs would be lost and environment would be much worse for it.  Read Will Blocking Canadian Pipelines Help Reduce Climate Change?  We need efficient ways to transport Canadian products (vehicles, copper, wood, oil, natural gas…) to market.

Fortunately, the Trudeau Federal government and the Notley Provincial government appear ready to take this on as the Canadian federation crisis that it is.

Is Rachel Notley’s announcement that Alberta is willing to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline to ensure it gets built the right decision?  We think that even if you were opposed to the pipeline, you would agree that is the only option.


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