Good Sunday Morning from Moncton!
Later today I will board one of my favourite VIA trains, The Ocean, for the overnight trip back to Ottawa. I got quite a few notes in response to last week’s newsletter that my schedule looked to be toooooo much. And it proved to be. I lost a day’s worth of commitments due to a rotten flu too nasty to describe. Fortunately, I am traveling with Marlene Wells, who has done just about every job there is to do in the Green Party and is now the political staffer for what used to be called “leader’s office,” now Political Hub. The Political Hub provides a “home” on the organizational chart for the MP Caucus, two leaders, and the Shadow Cabinet. These are the parts of the party that do policy and research (all volunteer), political strategy and much electoral preparation. Marlene connected with one of my dear friends in the area where we relocated. I think I slept 36 hours straight. I was back on track for St. Patrick’s Day. Grateful as ever for physical resilience. I have my mother’s genes.
We had a lot of fossil fuel infrastructure news this week. First the good news from Atlantic Canada. Spanish firm Repsol decided there was no way it could afford to build an LNG terminal in St. John, New Brunswick. The Conservatives keep attacking climate measures as making it hard to get energy to Ukraine. The news stories tend to ignore the fact that even if some LNG company eventually decided it could make money doing so, the business case presumes a very long war of Russian aggression and losses on both sides. I guess even those who bank on the planet broiling, and do not mind thousands of civilian casualties to make building the infrastructure worthwhile, can back off when faced with sticker shock.
With the budget due out next week (March 28th) there is no sign Trudeau Liberals are yet reacting to sticker shock on TMX.
On March 10, our Crown Corporation, owned by us all, announced that the price of the Trans-Mountain (formerly Kinder Morgan) pipeline expansion had jumped again, from $21.4 billion just one year ago to over $30 billion. The original price touted in the 2016 NEB hearings by Kinder Morgan was $5 billion. By 2018, Kinder Morgan managed to con the Liberals into buying the pipeline and taking over building it. Unbelievable to me to this day that when a Texas pipeline company figures out the project is a money loser, they got Canada to buy it for more than it was worth and pledge to build it.
The hardest parts of construction are still ahead. Trans Mountain said in its statement:
“Specific factors for cost increases include high global inflation and global supply chain challenges; unprecedented floods in British Columbia; unexpected major archaeological discoveries; challenging terrain between Merritt and Hope; earthquake standards in the Burnaby Mountain tunnel; unexpected water disposal costs in the Sumas Prairie; and issues regarding densely populated areas between Sumas and Burnaby.”
I find it incredible that media fails to point out that the area between Sumas and Burnaby did not – within the last year – suddenly become densely populated. The terrain between Merritt and Hope did not over the last twelve months shake off a previously gentle pastoral landscape to geologically morph into a mountainous region of steep slopes and challenging terrain. Nor did earthquake risk in the region suddenly register as a safety issue.
These guys are such comedians.
But the largest irony has to be that the climate crisis caused by our addiction to fossil fuels created extreme weather events that hit the pipeline route hard. I am including links to various news media slants on the news of the $30 billion price tag. The only source that even mentions that the climate emergency brought the “unprecedented” floods, the atmospheric rivers, the flooding of the Sumas Prairie (that was a river) is the National Observer. Other outlets hope to gloss over the bad news by hyping that Indigenous business interests still hope to buy the project.
These days, whenever I see a multi-billion announcement, I want to restate it in millions. I think our brains go a bit numb. Billion ends up sounding like a bit more than a million – maybe ten times more, maybe 100 times more, if we think of it at all. The squandering of funds we need for so many other key investments – in health care, clean drinking water for every Indigenous community, building out an east-west, north-south electricity grid, renewable energy – could be funded by unplugging the pipeline. The TMX price tag is now 30,000 million dollars.
Meanwhile, March 10th brought other bad news for TMX, and, for that matter, the global economy. Nerves were shattered by the failure of Silicon Valley Bank. Global oil prices plunged. Good news for consumers and fighting inflation. Very bad news for TMX.
Please let Chrystia Freeland hear from you about this outrage before next week’s budget: [email protected].
This week is a big one in Ottawa. U.S. President Joe Biden will address Parliament on Friday. I am more focused on getting my bill on Environmental racism (Bill C-226) through Report Stage on Thursday. And I have lots of meetings to get Earth Day events organized across Canada. Let me know if you want to sign up!
Best love to all,
P.S. more recent coverage:
“Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said it best. When the story broke last week, she told Observer reporter Natasha Bulowski the spill coverup is “an outrageous act of environmental racism.” She’s right.”
Just posted, my zoom lecture at St. Thomas University “The Climate Crisis and Why Nuclear Power is not the Solution.”
A media correction on the Green policy on Ukraine: