The top five whoppers from Kinder Morgan

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise tonight in the House to return to a question I asked on February 5 of the Prime Minister.

February 5 should not seem like so long ago, but it was when conversations about Kinder Morgan were less tinged with hysteria than they are today. It is a shame that we have distended into sort of a tit-for-tat competition without regard to the facts.

I want to focus on facts. That was what I did in my question on February 5 for the Prime Minister on the use of the figure of 15,000 jobs being at stake in building Kinder Morgan, that this was an exaggeration. Even Kinder Morgan had never suggested that. Therefore, I have decided, in the four minutes allowed to me, to put forward the five top whoppers of claims about Kinder Morgan that are not factually correct, and hope I have time to add some facts about what is correct.

First, 15,000 thousand jobs is something that is repeated often. I do not know where it came from. Kinder Morgan’s submission to the National Energy Board put forward that its project would create a grand total of 2,500 jobs a year for two years. It never asserted more than that, and it asserted 90 permanent jobs. There is no multiplier factor I can find that comes to 15,000 permanent jobs. It is 2,500 jobs a year in construction for two years.

Second, repeated quite often is the idea that this pipeline has been operated by Kinder Morgan since 1953, shipping dilbit with no problems. However, there are two problems with that statement. In 1953, the pipeline was co-owned by Canadian Bechtel Ltd. and Standard Oil, and it was shipping a different product, crude, not dilbit. When Kinder Morgan took it over and bought it in the early 2000s, starting about 2004-05, very small amounts of bitumen mixed with diluent started to be shipped. This is the substance that has specific problems, and it is very different from crude.

The third point that keeps being claimed is that dilbit is just like crude and anyone can clean it up. We know that this is not true because of a spill that happened at an Enbridge pipeline at Kalamazoo, Michigan. This was the first time that even people like me who were dubious about pipelines realized that shipping diluted bitumen was an entirely different matter from shipping crude. The dilbit in the Kalamazoo River separated, the diluent floating to the surface and making the neighbourhood surrounding it sick. It was the symptoms of human illness that alerted Enbridge that it had a pipeline break, because it had systematically shut off all the alarms as they went off in the control room. Then the bitumen sank to the floor of the river.

The studies on bitumen and diluent fall into different categories. The studies done approximating ocean conditions, such as at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Halifax, show that in ocean water with sand, bits of seaweed, and so on, when the diluent separates, the bitumen forms oil balls around particulates and then it sinks. However, if they fill a tank full of fresh water in Alberta and add in salt and do the studies there, they are able to report that bitumen mixed with diluent will float, at least for a while, until the diluent floats away.

Fourth, the next big whopper is that there is a $73 billion benefit to the Canadian economy over 20 years. That comes from a study by a company called Muse Stancil. Kinder Morgan submitted it in the NEB process. It was thoroughly reviewed by economists working for the City of Vancouver, who found that it was fatally flawed. This conclusion was also reached by a Minnesota public government review of a report by the same company. It found that its assumptions and data were unrealistic and unreliable.

Fifth, in my last seven seconds, is the claim that we lose $40 million a day, which is totally false.

Steven MacKinnon – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to my friend from Saanich—Gulf Islands, I am going to have to do this evening, as I am filling in my for my esteemed colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources.

I listened with interest to the member’s remarks and her efforts in myth-busting with respect to Kinder Morgan. I do not know that she cited sources for any of this information, but what I do know is that this government has taken a very rigorous approach to its approval of pipelines. It has taken a science-based approach. We are, in fact, debating further enhancements, but this government, in a surfeit of caution, added a layer of suspenders and a belt, so to speak, to the approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline by appointing a review panel. That review panel, coupled with the NEB approval, led the government to approve this pipeline, and I think the rest is history.

There are certainly ferocious arguments being made on the side of environmentalists. There are certainly ferocious arguments being made, for example, by Conservatives in favour of the pipeline. We choose to take these projects on their merits, using science and evidence, and based on the knowledge that the environment and the economy are not a choice. We can have the prosperity generated by a modern natural resource industry, one that has multiple points of access to global markets and that does not leave hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars on the table, or jobs on the table, or take money out of the Canadian economy.

We choose to have that growth, all the while making sure that there are environmental safeguards that go with the construction of such projects. There is also the more general framework on climate change our government is putting forward, whereby we tax carbon pollution, taxing something we do not want and hopefully seeing a return. The proceeds of that will foster activities we do want, whether it be innovation in the green economy, whether it be income, or whether it be other sorts of things, as provincial governments and others see fit.

I think we have struck a very useful, constructive, and productive balance with respect to the Kinder Morgan pipeline. I do not know that the arguments on either side of the extremes of this argument are particularly helpful. We have a science-based, evidence-based approach that seeks to reconcile the environment and the economy, create prosperity for Canadians, create jobs in our energy sector and beyond, and make sure that Canada retains its leadership role as a participant in the war on climate change, and more generally, as a leader in the vanguard of environmental protection the world over.

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I will go to sources in the time I have remaining.

The source that there would not be 15,000 jobs but 2,500 jobs over two years comes from Volume 5 of the submission of Kinder Morgan to the National Energy Board. I also direct the parliamentary secretary to the submissions from Unifor and the Alberta Federation of Labour that Kinder Morgan threatens jobs, information the NEB refused to hear.

Second, that Kinder Morgan has been shipping only since it was created can be found on any site. To the point that the dilbit cannot be cleaned up, I refer the hon. member to the report of the Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel and the American Academy of Sciences.

To the question of the exaggerated claims of financial benefit, I refer him to a report from the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the evidence from Vancouver, which can be found in an article by Andrew Nikiforuk in The Tyee, on April 11th, entitled “Kinder Morgan’s Blackmail”. The sources are hyperlinked to that article.

Last, for the $40 million a day, google Robyn Allan: Scotiabank report a fantasy. The member will find all the sources there.

Steven MacKinnon

Mr. Speaker, I have a great deal of respect for the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. Obviously, we can disagree without being disagreeable.

I, too, have a couple of sources. The TD Bank has calculated that Canada’s reliance on oil exports to the United States has cost the Canadian economy $117 billion over the last seven years. If we apply even conservative inflation estimates and project into the future, we have forgone, and will continue to forgo, billions of dollars in tax revenues that could be used to fund an oceans protection plan. These are tax revenues that could be used to build hospitals and schools, tax revenues that could be used to help Canadians in need, and indeed, tax revenues that could be used to help with reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous people.

On that, I would also point out the 43 indigenous communities that have signed millions of dollars in benefit agreements along the pipeline’s route. This is an important issue.