Pipelines that encourage bituminous sands expansion are not in the planet's interest.
Spending huge amounts of money locking our energy infrastructure into carbon based energy only makes sense in the short run, and then only if you're an energy company comfortable with flipping the bird to small island states, and all future generations.
The economic case for the pipeline does not even make sense for the Canadians.
CBCs As It Happens made the case for it in their February 6, 2012 show in the segment Northern Gateway Oil Costs:
The pipeline is expected to drive up the price of oil several dollars per barrel over what the cost is expected to go up anyway.
As soon as oil companies can get increased prices for any oil, they will start charging that here in Canada as well.
The pipeline, if built, would raise oil prices for Canadians, not just Asian markets, leading to more profit for the oil companies on the backs of Canadians said Robyn Allan, former CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia on CBC.
Most Canadians lose economically in the scenario where the pipeline is built. And that's before you account for the environmental consequences.
Building a pipeline is a major misallocation of resources when our civilization should instead be pursuing a generation defining shift away from fossil fuels.
When Premiers and Prime Ministers act as travelling salesmen for the oil companies it feels like a corruption of the governance structure. Economy now, instead of environment forever. That's election cycle thinking at its worst.
Even if TransCanada's Keystone XL or Enbridge's Northern Gateway can be constructed in a way that minimizes the likelihood of an environmental catastrophe, we continue to find ourselves locked into the carbon emissions associated with the ongoing use of the infrastructure.
Remember, the scarce resource here isn't the oil, it's the ability of the atmosphere and the oceans to absorb the CO2 without catastrophic consequences. That's the resource that needs management.
What does that mean on the ground in communities like this one?
Reinvesting in local infrastructure, finding ways to live off current solar income, and reawakening the Canadian determination to doing the right thing, even when it's hard.
The answers are out there. The transition to walkable communities, clean energy and a stable planet in the future is incompatible with fossil energy expansion. We're sharp. We can find better solutions than laying pipe.
Originally published Feb 11, 2012.