This week, the Trudeau government approved two pipelines, and rejected one other. Trudeau is winning lavish praise for his bold, statesmanlike decision in some quarters, hyperbolic, end-of-the-world scorn from others.

Trudeau’s decision to allow two of three is simply the right thing to do, in some ways because we have no choice. The simple, sad fact of the matter is that the world runs on oil, and it will run on oil for the foreseeable future. You can put solar panels on every home and an electric car in every garage and we will still need oil. Oil literally greases the wheels of virtually every industry, even the greenest of the green. Canada has a huge storehouse of oil that the world wants and needs, and to ‘leave it in the ground’ as the most fanatical eco-freaks chant, is absurd. Canada is an energy economy, and the industry – no matter how despicable it is in many ways – is worth tens of billions of dollars and provides employment for hundreds of thousands. Most of our oil is in Alberta, and the safest, cheapest, fastest way to get it out of here is via pipeline. Could there be a spill? Of course. But Green Party leader (of a party of one) Elizabeth May’s contention that “it’s not if there will be a spill, but when” is idiocy. There are literally thousands of kilometres of pipelines criss-crossing the country that have never leaked a drop.

Yes, there are risks in moving oil via pipeline. And there are risks in moving human beings through the air in speeding metal projectiles. There are acceptable risks, and unacceptable risks. Pipelines, as much as we might hate them, are acceptable, and unavoidable, risks. To reject all pipelines and leave the oil in the ground would costs thousands of jobs, and rob the federal and provincial treasuries of untold billions of dollars – dollars used to pay for our health care, our social safety net, all that stuff – and would be the unthinkable.

Personally, I loathe the oil industry, and I wish there was some sort of reasonable option to oil. In time, there may be; we are moving slowly in that direction. But for now, and for probably decades to come, there is no real option.

Notley the right premier for the job

Man, I never thought I’d write those words, but Rachel Notley is the ideal premier for this moment in time.

Selling a pipeline to delicate British Columbians is going to be a tough job. But having the only squishy-socialist premier in the country doing the selling will make the job a lot easier. No offence to the late Jim Prentice, but imagine the reaction in B.C. if a button-down, charm-challenged, business-suited Calgary conservative businessman was the point man for the pipeline cause. There will be no convincing the die-hard tree huggers, but the non-fanatics will be a lot easier to convince with smiling, motherly, Rachel Notley as the point woman. Trudeau heaped praise on Notley for her climate change (as in ‘we’re taking change from your pockets’) plan, which paved the way for the pipeline decisions. We’re gonna pay for it with carbon taxes, so let’s hope this works.

RIP

Joe McKnight, 28, current Saskatchewan Roughrider and former NFLer, shot to death in a road rage incident. See how important it is to have everybody armed? …Jim Delligatti, 98, creator of the Big Mac …Grant Tinker, 90, creative brains of NBC TV during its golden era, and a founder of MTM productions (Mary Tyler Moore, The Bob Newhart Show) …Wayne Smith, 66, all-star CFL defensive lineman in the 1970s-80s.

 

One thought on “Stuff Still Happens, week 48: Why we (sigh) need pipelines

  1. A couple of points that I would love your response on:
    1. You write: “The simple, sad fact of the matter is that the world runs on oil, and it will run on oil for the foreseeable future.” – It is not possible to reconcile this statement with what scientists say needs to be done to avoid catastrophic climate change. Is it acceptable to leave our children a world that is warming dramatically for hundreds of years to at least 3-4C, with the uncertainty and social and economical upheaval that entails?
    2. There are existing pipelines. These new pipelines are needed for expanded oil sands development – not existing levels. So it’s not just not decreasing our emissions – it’s a pathway to increase them. The fact that the Alberta government promises only to increase them to 100MT does not change the fact that this is moving in the wrong direction.
    There’s more I could say, but let’s start with your response to those two points.

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