Feds Make Pipeline Decisions — Newspark Aian Binlayo
Newspark — Feds Make Pipeline Decisions
What do these pipelines mean for Canadians, and how is the media covering these recent decisions?
Week of December 5, 2016 — Earlier last week, the federal government announced its decisions on several major oil pipeline projects, approving Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline and rejecting Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remarked, “The decision we took today is the one that is in the best interests of Canada… It is a major win for Canadian workers, for Canadian families and the Canadian economy, now and into the future.”
These decisions, however, come after much controversy and will surely continue to spark heated debates in the days ahead. If constructed, these projects would lead to many significant social, economic, and environmental impacts.
In his announcement, Trudeau mentioned that the $6.8-billion Kinder Morgan expansion is expected to create 15,000 new jobs during construction, increase access to global markets, and generate $4.5 billion in federal and provincial government revenues, while the $4.8-billion Line 3 project is expected to create 7,000 new jobs during construction and generate $514.7 million in federal and provincial government revenues.
Robert Blakely, operating officer of Canada’s Building Trades Unions, welcomed the recent decisions: “Canada’s economy is founded on major industrial projects like pipelines. Middle class Canada needs foundational support in order to assist in the energy transition process. These two pipelines will create more certainty for apprentices and journeypersons alike.”
According to a review by Environment and Climate Change Canada on the Kinder Morgan and Line 3 projects, these two pipelines will increase upstream greenhouse gas emissions by 23-28 million tonnes, effectively cancelling out reductions from the recently announced national carbon pricing plan (18 million tonnes) and coal phase-out (5 million tonnes).
Greenpeace Canada spokesperson Mike Hudema said, “These pipelines would push Canada’s international climate commitments out of reach and lock Canada into millions of tonnes of new emissions for decades to come. We need to build the clean energy economy of the 21st century, not expand a fossil fuel infrastructure that the world is quickly moving away from. Today the Prime Minister’s also broke his promise to Indigenous reconciliation. Despite the stated opposition to these pipelines from over 100 First Nations and tribes, the Prime Minister ignored their voices and approved two new pipelines that would bring ongoing threats to their lands, culture, water and economies.”
When reading some of the news coverage below, did you feel that some perspectives were not represented as strongly as others? Were some perspectives not represented at all?
What values and lifestyles are represented in the reactions and perspectives below? How do these values and lifestyles compare to your own?
The issue of jobs has been at the centre of much of the debate surrounding these pipelines. Some, including the federal government, say that the pipelines will create many thousands of jobs and greatly benefit the economy. Others claim that because its oil is unrefined, the pipelines would not create many permanent jobs or have lasting economic benefits. How is the media representing this tension?
Safety has also been a significant concern for many involved in the pipeline debate. While some claim that any pipeline is inherently dangerous, others argue that compared to refined oil, raw crude oil is far safer to transport, and that pipelines are actually among the safest—if not the safest—way to transport the unrefined product. How is the media representing this conflict involving safety?
Kinder Morgan Canada: “[The approval of Trans Mountain] is a defining moment for our Project and Canada’s energy industry,” said Ian Anderson, President, Kinder Morgan Canada. “This decision follows many years of engagement and the presentation of the very best scientific, technical and economic information. We are excited to move forward and get this Project built, for the benefit of our customers, communities and all Canadians.”
Greenpeace Canada: “Apparently Justin Trudeau’s sunny ways mean dark days ahead for climate action and Indigenous reconciliation in Canada. With this announcement Prime Minister Trudeau has broken his climate commitments, broken his commitments to Indigenous rights, and has declared war on B.C. If Prime Minister Trudeau wanted to bring Standing Rock-like protests to Canada, he succeeded…”
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley: “Today we are finally seeing some morning light. We are getting a chance to break our landlock. We’re getting a chance to sell to China and other new markets at better prices. We’re getting a chance to reduce our dependence on one market, and therefore to be more economically independent. And we’re getting a chance to pick ourselves up and move forward again.”
David Suzuki Foundation Western Canada director general Jay Ritchlin: “This is not a sound, evidence-based decision. We expect British Columbians to fight this decision and demand that Canada stop expanding fossil fuel infrastructure. Clean technology is the fastest growing sector in Canada’s economy. That’s where we need to invest in Canada’s best interest.”
Robert Blakely, operating officer of Canada’s Building Trade Unions: “Our membership, half a million strong across the country, are looking forward to these projects and getting to work. Canada’s economy is founded on major industrial projects like pipelines. Middle class Canada needs foundational support in order to assist in the energy transition process. These two pipelines will create more certainty for apprentices and journey persons alike.”
Additional Teaching Resources
With an issue as contentious as the construction of these pipelines, educators can use the opportunity to teach students about the importance of examining media critically and recognizing the diverse set of perspectives contributing to the debate. Above is a small sampling of various news coverage and opinions relevant to the recent pipeline decisions. While the compilation is by no means exhaustive, we hope it provides you and your students with further context on the issue itself and the many voices that surround it.
GreenLearning offers a number of free, online teaching resources relevant to the recent pipeline decisions, including our Oil Sands Education Dialogue module, which explores the controversial and complex oil sands program from a variety of perspectives. There, students can learn through an interactive interface and actively consider the contentious issue of oil sands and pipelines through various lenses, including those of the federal government, the people of Alberta, the Alberta government, and the future of youth.