The Trans Mountain expansion will benefit everyone, including Indigenous groups

OPINION: On August 4th, Tim Takaro, a professor from Simon Fraser University set up an encampment in the treetops over New Westminster, British Columbia.

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The ardent professor has been a vocal critic of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. His latest move is an attempt to halt construction of the pipeline in the area and rally other anti-oil and gas activists to his cause.

The exact number of tree-campers is unknown, but some well-known names have shown up. Sven Biggs of STAND.earth has also taken to the treetops to continue his push against Trans Mountain. NDP MP Peter Julian has also been out to the camp and fully supports the blocking of the pipeline project. It has now been a month and a half and the pipeline does not seem to be stopping, contrary to what Dr. Takaro and his cohorts have claimed.

They claimed that they have successfully delayed construction even though the company says it’s on track to have the pipeline operational by end of the year 2022. Its construction and completion will bring jobs, boost the economy, and could potentially lower global emissions by displacing higher emission California oil.

A common theme among anti-Trans Mountain activists is their disdain for facts surrounding the expansion. These claims range from mass opposition by Indigenous groups to being an economic sinkhole, to catastrophically increasing emissions. These claims are wrong.

Trans Mountain is going to give a leg up to Indigenous groups and provide a host of economic benefits for the region. Despite the alleged overwhelming opposition to the project by Indigenous communities, 120 out of the 129 communities along the pipeline route either support the project or chose not to oppose the project.

As of February 2020, Trans Mountain has signed 58 benefits agreements with Indigenous communities worth over $500 million to drive job training, skills enhancement, and business opportunities. This will help tackle on-reserve poverty and increase the quality of life in these communities.

In fact, there are also Indigenous groups such as Project Reconciliation and the Iron Coalition that are planning on putting in offers to buy controlling stakes in the pipeline once it is complete.

Economically, the pipeline will also bring benefits to the area. The Conference Board of Canada found that in the first 20 years of operation, the project is expected to bring $46.7 billion in government revenue. This includes $5.7 billion in provincial payments directly to the province of British Columbia as well as nearly $1 billion in municipal taxes along the pipeline’s path. This will help fund services like health care. 

In terms of climate change and emissions, there is evidence that Trans Mountain can be a climate pro rather than a con. Navius Research found that Trans Mountain could potentially reduce global emissions by up to 1,600,000 tonnes.

Energy demand will be increasing, COVID, or no COVID, due to the growth of the global population over the next 30 years. Another 2 billion people will be added to the earth, and we are going to need to meet their sincere demands for quality of life. Canada has the highest ranking for the environmental, social, and governance categories of the top 10 oil and gas producers.

If another country is producing energy, it will not be doing it as well as Canadians can. Its time anti-oil and gas activists understood that Canada can be the world’s energy producer and be sustainable at the same time.

Hydrocarbons are responsible for the miracle of modern society and activists don’t have a plausible replacement for them.  Our transition to a cleaner future even under the most extreme climate forecasts involves the world using significant amounts of oil and gas.  If we care about the planet then we should want that oil and gas to come from Canada.  Canada is the best in the world at producing responsible energy and that’s why the Trans Mountain expansion is a good idea.

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