Tom Walkom writes that, when it comes to the Trans Mountain pipeline, the Trudeau government has the law and the constitution on its side:
The proposed Trans Mountain heavy-oil pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific coast has law, economics and the Constitution on its side.
It has been approved by the National Energy Board and okayed by the federal government which, under the constitution, has the ultimate authority in such matters.
First Nations along the right of way may not all agree. But they have been consulted, which is all that the law demands.
The project would boost Alberta’s economy and, by opening up new energy markets in Asia, reduce Canada’s unhealthy reliance on the U.S.
Barring one thing, it is a no-brainer.
But that one thing is the planet:
While the oilsands accounted for just under 10 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gases in 2014, they are the fastest growing source of carbon emissions in the country.
In climate terms, the most sensible course of action would be to gradually shut the oilsands down. Thanks to the growth of cheaper forms of energy, they are already headed in that direction. It wouldn’t take much of a nudge to finish the job.
Economically, the Tar Sands' days are numbered. When oil was selling for $100 a barrel goo from northern Alberta was pulling in a healthy profit. The break even point for a barrel of bitumen was somewhere in the $70 range. But nobody is making any money when oil is selling for $65 a barrel. And, with new green sources of energy coming on line, that price will go down. That's why -- with an eye to the future -- Royal Dutch Shell sold off its Tar Sands operations several years ago.
Wisdom -- with an eye to the future -- would shut down the pipeline. But the law could keep it going. Sometimes, the law and wisdom are on opposing sides of the argument.
Image: The Economist