Gateway pipeline will benefit all of Canada

Former Newfoundland Premier Brian Peckford, now residing in Qualicum Beach, offers his perspective on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.

In May, 2010 the Northern Gateway Pipelines Limited Partnership filed an application to the National Energy Board to build a pipeline to carry bitumen to the coast of British Columbia for export to markets overseas.

From January to July 2012, the NEB heard oral evidence from 393 participants in 17 communities. After all of that, the Joint Expert panel ruled in favour of the project, subject to 209 conditions. On June 17 the government of Canada approved the project as proposed by the NEB. In other words, the project is approved subject to the 209 conditions imposed by the NEB. There is substantial opposition in British Columbia given that most of the pipeline is in B.C., plus the terminal at Kitimat.

There seems to be little recognition that this is a national project involving directly two provinces and many other provinces in its construction and its value to assist the nation in its substantial trade that benefits the whole nation.

History seems lost to many in B.C. as to the way the national railways provide great benefit to the province in that those railways bring to port many resources from other parts of Canada and make Vancouver the largest port in the country.

Here are some facts: Including indirect and induced effects, in round numbers, the total impacts of ongoing operations at businesses related to Port Metro Vancouver across Canada are:

98,800 jobs

$9.7 billion in Gross Domestic Product

$20.3 billion in economic output

$6.1 billion in wages

$67,000 average wage for job

Although all of this is not due to the rest of Canada, a large part is as a result of the delivery of products from other parts of the nation and it is the railways that makes it possible and in which all Canadians invested historically. This is valuable to producers in the rest of Canada and to Vancouver and B.C. in providing the port. Everyone benefits.

It often seems to me that in the lower mainland of B.C. such large resource development in our province is somehow viewed as new and is just not green enough to pass muster.

B.C. produces natural gas, another hydrocarbon, and lots of it. With new shale and tight gas discoveries of the Horn River Basin and the Montney Basin, natural gas is abundant and is carried by pipeline around the province, even by pipeline under ecologically sensitive Georgia Strait to Vancouver Island.

When one hears people talk of Northern Gateway you would think that we are new to the game of pipelines carrying hydrocarbons.

The B.C. Oil and Gas Commission regulates 39,000 kilometres of oil and gas pipelines in this province. There are over 100,000 kilometres of oil and gas pipelines across Canada. Canada’s first gas pipeline was in 1853!

Under our constitution, pipelines that travel across provincial boundaries are federal. There is a substantial number of B.C. residents who feel that somehow this project is different. However, very few ever make reference to the gas pipeline from Aiken, B.C. that travels through Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and into Illinois, bringing B.C. gas to the U.S. This is a national project and all parties: First Nations, industry, provinces and the federal government, need to cooperate.

There are risks, of course, and historically if today’s environmental rules applied to the building of the railways I suspect they may not have been built.

But we are a mature democracy that can use technology and common sense to advance our economic, financial and cultural interests. That means mitigating the real concerns of new resource developments. To objectively determine if the benefits out weigh the risks.

In this present project, due diligence and objective measures have been applied.

To sustain our present standard of living, to say nothing of making it even better, we must develop our natural resources. That’s how we achieved our present prosperity.

It is interesting to note that the four provinces who are “have” provinces today are all oil and gas producers. Who then will pay the equalization payments for the other “have not” provinces?

Renewable energy remains very expensive compared to coal, oil and gas and nuclear generation. And when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine, what then?

The latest BP Energy Review for 2013 shows global energy consumption by source: oil 33 per cent, coal 30 per cent, gas 24 per cent, hydro seven per cent, nuclear four per cent and non hydro renewals three per cent. And coal grew more than oil or gas, globally. That is the reality and Canada is posed to respond to this demand.

On balance, then, as the NEB has said, this is a project in the national interest and should proceed if all the conditions have been met.

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