EDITORIAL: Moving goods to market

We'd all like to fuel the economy and our lives with clean energy, but until that's a reality, we have to move our products to market

If the email inbox had a bell, it would have sounded like a Christmas concert in here on Tuesday afternoon.

Word came from Ottawa that the federal government had approved the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, bringing oil from Alberta to Burnaby.

“Cynical betrayal” screamed the Dogwood Initiative. “Pipeline approval spells disaster” yelled Greenpeace Canada. “Pipeline fight has just begun” said another.

First, we don’t believe this was a reversal in policy or any kind of promise-reneging by the prime minister. In fact, we could not get specifics from the Liberal Party of Canada or the local Liberal candidate during the federal election regarding this issue.

We did, however, hear candidate Justin Trudeau talk about the need for Canadians to move their goods to market. And this is where the rubber meets the road.

Unless they are talking about a total, immediate end to the oil-extraction industry in this country, and they have a clean-energy plan to fuel our economy, groups like Greenpeace and the Dogwood Initiative need to come clean about how they would have this oil move from where it is, Alberta, to where it has been sold, the rest of Canada and the world.

Yes, we would favour the job and wealth creation that would come from refining oil here in Canada as opposed to sending raw product overseas (logs too), but those projects are not exactly getting overnight approval. And then we would have to move the value-added product anyway, right?

So, we have oil. The extraction creates jobs and tax revenue that pays for health care and education. How are we to move this oil to market?

Is there anyone out there who could suggest with a straight face that moving oil from Alberta to the Pacific on trains or in trucks is a safer option than a pipeline? We didn’t think so.

Thanks to some of these so-called environmental groups, a lot of attention has been rightly focused on tanker safety and spill response measures for the Salish Sea. Nothing is fool-proof, and the thought of one litre spilling into the waters around Vancouver Island is horrifying, but again, if we are going to extract the oil, we have to move it to market, and that has its inherent risks.

We’d like to be living in a world where we did not need fuels that foul our air and water. We’d prefer to run our cars, heat our homes, produce all we produce, with clean(er) energy. Unfortunately, we are not there. And screaming at the prime minister about regulatory processes, the focus of MP Gord Johns’ opposition to the announcement Tuesday, won’t change that.

— Editorial by John Harding