New Pipeline Project: Do the Benefits Outweigh the Costs?

by lgriffin on November 25, 2016 - 8:49pm

        In no longer than a month, the federal government must make a decision whether to follow through with the plan of a pipeline extension from Alberta to the B.C. coast. More specifically, it is expanding Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline between these areas. There are many factors that will determine the final decision on carrying out these plans including the environmental risks of spills and the increase in emissions of greenhouse gases. The federal government must have the positive impacts outweighing the negative in order to allow for the continuation of this project. There are spare pipelines to haul the oil to refineries, but by the year 2018, it is expected that the space will run out. After this happens, there will be no choice but to ship the crude oil by rail, adding on top of almost a million barrels already shipped by train per day. A contradicting factor is that the distribution of oil through train reaches more destinations than the pipelines. Blair King, an environmental chemist, stated that accidents and spills are 4.5 times less than oil-by-rail.

        Both opponents and proponents have agreed that the more pipelines that exist, the more oil production there will be. While this pipeline may not create a significant difference in production, it can impact the future of production rates. Whether this be good or bad, the prices of oil from this pipeline will be less expensive due to the ease of transportation to the coast, costing less when dealing with world markets. Not only is this good for foreign affairs, but the pipeline is estimated to bring in revenue from royalties and higher benefits from the federal government summing to an extra billion dollars. In B.C, many are disagreeing with the project, while in Alberta they predict that it is in the public interest. In under 30 days, Ottawa will have its answer.

        Now, understanding that with an increase in pollution, global warming, and the exploitation of land and oceans, we should be environmentally friendly all-the-more and refrain from adding to these issues. Having stated that, I do believe that this pipeline will bring more benefit then doubt to the Canadian economy and our place in the world. Starting with the number of dangers that can come of shipping oil by freight, a single spill can cause a massive amount of damage to human health and the environment. Pipelines have been known to be an easier clean-up than most other modes of transportation. This pipeline is also expected to bring extra money into the economy as well as give jobs to local community members, hence why they suspect it will be in Alberta’s public interest. In conclusion, I think this is best perceived as a value conflict from the perspective I viewed it. My reasons for this is due to the proposing side wanting to increase Canada’s wealth and economy, and the opposing side fearing the increased oil production in future years. Since this specific pipeline is not the ‘be-all-end-all’, I feel that the continuation of the project will be the better decision under the circumstance we are faced with at the present. But we must dive deeper into the consequences that more pipelines could bring down the road.