Bigger than a pipeline

Let’s start with the facts. The December 2016, Canada Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change between the federal government and provinces led to a price on carbon in Alberta but had a number of other provisions.
It allowed Alberta to increase oil sands emissions to 47.5 per cent above 2014 levels. It excluded greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for all new upgrading facilities or co-generation plants that use steam for both electricity and extracting bitumen.
Negative for this region was the trade-off to shutter coal-fired power plants, but it did include the federal government’s commitment to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Taken in totality, it might be surprising that an NDP government in Alberta and a Liberal government in Ottawa, both who believe in climate change and it’s impending dangers, would sign such an agreement.
What it did confirm was that these two governments know the importance of long-term strategies rather than ideology and short-term poll bumps.
The move to a low carbon economy doesn’t happen overnight. Slamming the brakes on Alberta’s oil production would be as catastrophic as not taking climate change seriously.
Former Premier Kristi Clark of British Columbia can take lots of credit for this current mess. Her party’s flagrant use of loopholes to secure large corporate donations, numerous ethical scandals and disregard for the legislature caused many political moderates to vote NDP.
Unfortunately for Alberta and Canada, a NDP win in B.C. couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Former Prime Minister Harper is also to blame because of his war on science.
In Bill C-38, the 2012 omnibus budget bill, Harper stealthily dismantled regulatory oversight and regulations pertaining to Canada’s water bodies and waterways and shut down many monitoring stations including those on the West Coast.
The intention was to smooth the way for the construction of the Northern Gateway pipeline.
Not surprisingly such draconian actions led to the demise of that pipeline and a majority victory by the then-third-place Liberal party.
I was the Executive Secretary to the Vice President of Finance of Syncrude when one of its six partners, Arco, pulled out and the entire project was threatened.
It took equity investments by the Federal, Ontario and Alberta governments to save the project and we know how well that turned out economically.
Kinder Morgan is playing the same card today. They want risk sharing with governments because the NDP Premier in B.C., single-focus environmentalists and some First Nations (43 First Nations signed benefit agreements with Kinder Morgan to date) are threatening Kinder Morgan’s ability to seek debt financing and shareholder support.
Call me a socialist, but I see the only option today is governments assuming much of the risk for the Trans Mountain pipeline.
But it’s imperative that the coastal First Nations be given a powerful decision making voice at the table for all regulations and enforcement relating to water safety, mitigation, clean-up, remedial action, fines and compensation.
This is a tale of the federal government and our provincial government being pragmatic and offending many in their respective parties.
Tough decisions, not ideology, must rule the day for the good of the country.
Trudeau has no short-term advantage for fighting B.C. as there are many Liberal seats to be lost in the next election.
From a partisan point of view, he has even fewer reasons to support Alberta where much of the population would rather die than vote Liberal or Trudeau.
But true leaders, such as Notley and Trudeau, play the long-game for the aggregate good of their province or country knowing full well there is always trade-offs and their political base can’t always be the winners!

by B.P. Schimke

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