Going with the flow (of oil)

by EVAN MATTHEWS, editor

As with so many political issues — whether you’re for or against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion — you’re being forced to adjust to the idea, as the federal and provincial governments are making their intentions clear.

The Federal Government has conditionally approved the $6.8-billion project. The B.C. and Alberta Governments are working toward approving the project.

Expanding the pipeline means more oil flowing through, and a toxic oil spill doesn’t bode well for our environment. Compounding the pipeline’s risk is that the added oil being shipped to the coast will likely cause an influx of tankers accessing coastal ports, which could lead to more accidents.

Speculative, yes, but not out of the question.

A March poll conducted by Ekos Research Associates, found 57 percent of British Columbians opposed Trans Mountain.

But some — such as Mayor of Fort St. John, Lori Ackerman — think there is a silent majority who support the Trans Mountain Expansion.

Last week Ackerman came out with a full-page advertisement in the Vancouver Sun, saying the majority of people in B.C. support the Trans Mountain Expansion, but they don’t share their view out of fear of bullying, harassment, etc.

Whether or not it’s actually true, I understand that fear to a degree, especially in the age of social media.

It’s so easy to disagree with someone’s point of view, research and support your argument, and tee off on somebody — if your view is controversial or incendiary to some, why bother to share it?

The reality is that there are benefits to a pipeline, too.

The benefits are economic, mostly, as in a serious increase to Canada’s GDP, and financial aid to rural communities and First Nations.

We’ve already got some economic benefit, with Kinder Morgan pledging almost $200,000 to the Village of Valemount.

The project provides a number of jobs, and so much opportunity to so many that need it.

Trudeau’s Liberals permanently halted Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project last week.

Yet, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project acquired the same Federal approval just granted to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion.

The National Energy Board and Harper Government initially approved the project before having the decision reversed by a court earlier this year, due to inadequate consultations of First Nations.

It’s worth noting, First Nations consultation is among the 157 binding conditions on the Liberal approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion, which if not completed adequately, could again prove a risk to the project in court.

I agree with Ackerman on one point: Before complaining about the pipeline, reducing your own carbon footprint is the most important first step — supply and demand.

People cannot and should not oppose this project, or make themselves out to be environmentalists, if they haven’t assessed and optimized their own situation, or in other words, are perpetuating the problem.

We have environmentally friendly alternatives to fossil fuels everywhere. If you hate pipelines, have you considered the alternatives, and do you use them?

This should not be a bandwagon issue. Pipeline decisions affect people’s lives: the lives of First Nations, lives of the employees of Kinder Morgan, and lives of the people who live in affected municipalities, etc.

Kinder Morgan told media last week it will work to acquire remaining government permits, including the provincial environmental assessment, and will then compile its final cost estimate, and consult with shippers before making a final investment decision.

If you oppose the project, then you should be able to look yourself in the mirror and answer the question, “Is my carbon footprint as small as it can be? Is there anything more I can do?”