Pipe­line Selfie Please, Justin

Alberta Oil - - EDITOR’S LOG - NICK WIL­SON nwil­son@al­ber­taoilmagazine.com


ap­proval of Petronas’s $36-bil­lion LNG pro­ject in Bri­tish Columbia is much­needed good news for the ser­vice in­dus­try. It’s the first con­crete sign that Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau re­ally sup­ports the in­dus­try, although there was an ear­lier in­di­ca­tor in Au­gust when his Cli­mate Change Min­is­ter Cather­ine McKenna vis­ited Calgary. She said the Al­berta govern­ment’s car­bon pric­ing makes it more likely that pipe­lines will be built—McKenna wouldn’t have said this with­out Trudeau’s per­mis­sion. It’s ex­pected that he will green­light the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line in De­cem­ber— an early Christ­mas present for ser­vice firms.

Rad­i­cal ENGOs danced on the ta­ble when first Premier Rachel Not­ley and then Trudeau got elected and signed the Paris cli­mate deal. But Not­ley turned the mu­sic off, piv­oted 180 de­grees on North­ern Gateway and came out swing­ing for pipe­lines.

A hard-earned Trans Moun­tain thumbs up would be an­other des­per­ately needed shot in the arm for ser­vice firms, and a well-de­served fin­ger in the eye of the rad­i­cal ENGOs. In the gen­eral elec­tion, some pumped money into key con­stituen­cies to try and get the Lib­er­als elected. ENGO in­ves­ti­ga­tor Vi­vian Krause, ar­gues that they were suc­cess­ful—and that many of their dol­lars weren’t Cana­dian. They should ask for their money back.

Trudeau would pre­fer to be re­mem­bered as some­thing other than a so­cial me­dia star who fid­dled with self­ies while the econ­omy burned. This means tak­ing tough de­ci­sions that will up­set some of his sup­port­ers—those lead­er­ship de­ci­sions that cre­ate jobs and may suc­ceed where his pre­de­ces­sor failed. When a fed­eral court ruled ear­lier this year that the govern­ment of for­mer prime min­is­ter Stephen Harper hadn’t ad­e­quately con­sulted on the North­ern Gateway pipe­line with First Na­tions—a con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tion—it added that do­ing so would only have de­layed the pipe­line by up to four months. Trudeau, in con­trast, has ap­pointed a panel, headed by a for­mer First Na­tions chief, Kim Baird, to do what Harper failed to do—lis­ten.

The car­bon pric­ing poli­cies, in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments and tough­en­ing of reg­u­la­tions cost pro­duc­ers. But they also buy Trudeau the po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal to build pipe­lines— although it would be nice to see a car­bon price on im­ported crude along with a hu­man rights abuse tax, see­ing as the Mid­dle East doesn’t do so­cial li­cense. Reg­u­la­tions help gain the sup­port on the ground needed for en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects from whomever owns the land they are built on. Tough love reg­u­la­tions also head off PR dis­as­ters such as the North Saskatchewan River spill whose pipe­line was only lightly reg­u­lated. So, the for­mula seems to be: Car­bon pric­ing + strict reg­u­la­tions + con­sul­ta­tion = Crude to tide­wa­ter.

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