Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Day 22, Enbridge Enlightenment? Letter to Prime Minister Harper

I didn't want to write about the Enbridge pipeline, everyone knows about it already.

Couldn't find a neutral picture when searching for
Enbridge images, so here's a BC bear instead.
That's relevant, right?
Several friends, people who usually never care about environmental issues, told me they don't want a pipeline.

Yet none of them have done anything to stop it.

So, here it is. Most people need to see an ad flash across screens/billboards/radios several times before taking action. Hopefully this topic in peoples' newsfeeds will be one more poke, and they will use the resources here to share their opinions with relevant government and companies. 

This stuff is complex, it changes daily (e.g. the latest spill in Wisconsin). Share your findings here so everyone can get a better understanding.

Or go on public record to the government's registry sharing your opinions here, open until Aug 31st.

Starting Point: Summary of Key Issues from The Canadian Press

Route: Northern Gateway would run between Bruderheim, Alta., northeast of Edmonton, to a marine terminal at Kitimat B.C. on the northern coast.

Length: 1,172 kilometres

Estimated Cost: ~$5.5 billion (source)

Capacity: The oilsands line would have a capacity of 525,000 barrels of oil per day, while the condensate line would carry 193,000 barrels per day.

Construction: The vast majority of the pipe would be buried up to a metre underground, except at some water crossings where it's safer to run the line above ground.

Construction jobs: Enbridge estimates construction will create about 62,700 person-years of employment over three years of construction. During peak construction, 2,000 to 3,000 people will work on building the pipelines and their associated facilities. [Note this has been contested in studies such as here]

Permanent jobs: Permanent pipeline operations would directly employ 104 people at various locations throughout Alberta and B.C., about half of whom would work in Kitimat.

Alternatives*: Some Canadian crude can access the West Coast through Kinder Morgan's 300,000 barrel-per-day Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs from near Edmonton to the B.C. Lower Mainland and Washington State. Kinder Morgan is looking to expand that line.

*A Letter A Day's Note: There are many other alternatives, which we will discuss in upcoming posts

Critics: Environmental, First Nations and other groups have spoken out against Northern Gateway. They say Enbridge can't guarantee there won't be a spill from the line itself or from a tanker along the coast and that such a spill would devastate the ecosystem.

Proponents: Enbridge has framed Northern Gateway as a matter of national interest, as it would help Canada become less reliant on a single oil export market: the United States. The ability to ship crude to Asia would get Canadian oil producers a better price for their crude. Suncor Energy Inc., Total E&P Canada, Cenovus Energy Corp., Nexen Inc. and MEG Energy Corp. are among the oilsands producers who back Northern Gateway.

Aboriginals: Some 130 B.C. First Nations, most of which have not signed treaties, have spoken out against the project. Enbridge has offered dozens of aboriginal groups a 10 per cent stake in the project, and says support has been strong.

The Letter
Which brings to the first letter, to the great Prime Minister of Canada himself. I'm not sure if this is the right guy to direct this to, maybe some of the more savvy campaigns will be able to recommend better people to e-mail this to.

Letters may get more complex as I learn more, but most will be recycled as the days go on.

In the meantime, this is just some of my own common and professional sense. Got any corrections, lemme know!

The Enbridge pipeline may create many jobs, but it makes more sense to use the precautionary principle - Canada should encourage investment in renewable energy and green jobs. Here are some of the main reasons why the pipeline shouldn't be built:

1)    Expense. Building the pipeline is a significant amount of money, and making it to a high safety standard will be cost prohibitive. At the end of the day, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee that there will be no spills or accidents. It’s not worth the costs required to make the margin smaller.

It makes far more fiscal sense to invest the money by increasing renewable energy, increasing the efficiency with which we use our energy, and investing in better infrastructure so that people are more likely to live close to home and are able to walk or bike to work. These new skill requirements will create a huge amount of jobs.

2)    Spills happen from time to time. The pipeline is often in more remote areas, which means workers have to work at a very high level of safety which is difficult and expensive. Renewable energy and energy conservation (if done well) is much safer, both for workers and the environment.

3)    Comparative advantage and foreign currency. Countries such as China are using solar panels and wind power at an increasing rate. If we work hard and become experts at creating renewable energy and energy efficiency or smart grid systems, we can still sell our products and expertise and gain money there. 

4)    Global reputation. Investing in the pipeline will not make us popular internationally.  Everyone can benefit from what we learn if we invest in renewables and efficiency instead, even those with which we could have traded oil.  A few friends and a world of unhappiness, or a world where everyone appreciates and respects our protectiveness.

Thank you!

Sent to:
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
E-mail: pm@pm.gc.ca
Give 'em a call:  613-992-4211

No comments:

Post a Comment