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Pipelines are a Distraction

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Personally I don’t want to see pipelines built – they may encourage further investment in the oil sands and may very, very slightly increase oil consumption worldwide. Both of those are tiny effects. The main problem is that it is a huge waste of capital to supply high-priced oil to a shrinking market.

The only positive things you can say about the pipeline projects are that, first, a little more of the money spent on oil as it is phased out will flow into Canada rather than into the evil USA. Since the companies are generally foreign owned that is not really a big benefit. Some of the small additional revenue will go to taxes and wages in Canada, and the Canadian dollar will be higher, hurting more future oriented industries.

Second, the two projects that have been approved will proceed under improved safety standards — they amount to a safety upgrades of older pipelines.

Third, the pipelines involve private money – if the pipelines go ahead, the companies may well go bankrupt, and that will be a positive contribution to phasing out oil as a fuel source.

So Trudeau’s approval of two pipeline projects does not bother me much — I am not going to spend my time opposing them.

The target I think really is essential to stopping the flow of oil through Vancouver and the Gulf is to end all subsidies to the oil companies.

Trudeau promised to do this.

“We will fulfill Canada’s G-20 commitment
to phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel
industry.” Liberal election promise

Take away the $3.3 billion in subsidies — which includes $1.16 billion from the province of Alberta — and these pipelines may have nothing to carry.

Currently the taxpayers of Canada contribute on average $100 per year to owners of the oil and gas companies. This is a reverse carbon tax. It has to go. Send a note to your MP: “When will the subsidies stop? You promised to end them. Do it.”

The next step is to get the Federal and Provincial government to admit that the price of carbon has to go over $100 per tonne. Once our governments tell the truth about what we need to do, there will be no more investment in tar sands production or pipelines.

Telling the truth is the second most powerful weapon the politicians have in the fight against climate change. It is also the cheapest – all they have to do is replace a few weasel words and a bag of hot air with a few accurate statements.

The most powerful weapon, of course, is a high carbon tax – which also costs nothing, since all that happens is money is collected with one hand and given back with the other.

So what is more important than fighting pipelines? Teaching politicians that fighting climate change is very cheap: take back a few subsidies, tell the truth and move some money around.




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