Oil-carrying trains derail as foreign-funded environmentalists oppose safer pipelines
Multiple train cars filled with oil derailed and leaked in western Manitoba earlier this week. Thankfully, the spill was rapidly contained, and no major repercussions where reported.
None the less, the derailment of more than a dozen train cars poses a serious long-term problem.
How can Canada, a country, that has more than 10% of the world’s oil reserves and ranks as the fourth largest exporter of the substance continue to thrive while transporting its resources by train?
Better yet, how can it do so without destroying the environment around us in the face of growing climate change?
Typically Canada’s oil has been carried by pipeline to the United States, where it is refined.
Over the last few years, as both Canada’s and the United States have increased their production, our capacity to move the resource to new markets has not. As a result, the National Energy Board, our energy regulator, announced in June that 200,000 barrels per day are being exported by rail.
That is an all-time high which also represents a net loss of $15.6 billion from our economy as our oil distribution capacity remain restricted when it comes to markets for sale, while also maintaining higher costs of transport, due to the use of trucks as well as trains.
Worryingly for all of us, the number of barrels transported by train is estimated to double in less than two years as pipeline constraints continue to skyrocket.
This is a serious long-term problem as transport by train can be extremely dangerous and expensive, while oil demand is expected to stay rather consistent even as electric vehicles on the road rise from less than 2 million today to 300 million by 2040.
The dangers of transporting oil by train
According to Brian Westenhaus:
“A typical crude oil tank car might be 32,000 gallons. A crude oil train could be a 100 or 100s of cars, say 100 for 3,200,000 gallons. The terrible nasty pipeline crude spill in Arkansas was estimated at a total of 80,000 gallons escaping during the 45 minutes that it took for the leak to be detected and then stopped. About 2 ½ railcars worth.”
For an example of problems closer to home simply look at the Lac-Megantic disaster, where “several” rail cars carrying oil derailed and caught fire… forcing the evacuation of 2,000, killing 38 and injuring many.
“Rail costs are much higher because pipelines are mostly laid through
Environmental costs to oil transport
In total, tr
With the costs to not developing pipelines quite clear, one has to ask why has Canadian pipeline development become so stalled?
According to the Suzuki foundation, “Twenty-one municipalities, 59 First Nations, 91
While true that some groups
A majority of BC voters, as well as Canadians in general, also support the project. Meaning that for the most part, the project should not face the kind of incredible opposition that it now sees at almost every level of government. In fact, it should be an issue that wins
And yet one after another,projects like the Northern Gateway, Energy East, and now potentially Trans Mountain fall by the wayside.
So what is providing extreme environmentalists with the extra muscle they need?
Foreign funding in Canadian politics
Foreign entities, mainly American groups which according to researcher and blogger Vivian Krause, “have contributed in the neighbourhood of $40-million in recent years to hundreds of Canadian environmental and Indigenous groups.”
This is extremely interesting, as the United States has rapidly become a far larger producer of oil than Canada, yet foreign funds have been focused on land-locking Albertan crude.
The Americans likely focus on Canada due to the fairly minimal level of election spending, or
In either case, with party donations capped at roughly $1600 per person, $40 million represents an extremely large amount of political capital.
It represents a lot of ads
It is also perhaps not that surprising that in the 2015 election, there were twice as many third-party groups flush with cash, which spent a combined total of $6 million, more than 5x as much money when compared to the previous election.
On top of foreign funds, it seems anti-pipeline extremists have also been receiving aid through foreign bots reportedly directed from Iran, Venezuela, and Russia.
According to the CBC, “roughly 21,600 tweets from those troll accounts directly targeted Canadians — many of them with messages critical of Canadian pipeline projects.”
While some Canadians may be quick to point out a large amount of grassroots support for opposing pipeline construction by Canada’s minority, in trying to ignore this foreign funding, they should not underestimate its impact across our political system.
While dialogue between Canadians should always be encouraged, foreign cash in effect represents foreign voices. That is something, which I believe most Canadians would oppose on values alone.
The Canadian political system should be sovereign; it should be decided by Canadians; it should not be hijacked by foreign millionaires bypassing donation limits in the hopes of land-locking Canadians under the false promise of reduced carbon emissions.
What do you think? Join the conversation by commenting below.
Analysts are suggesting that the anti-pipeline protests that have blockaded railways, roads and certain ports are likely to result in a spike in gas prices.
The railroad tracks in Belleville, Ont. have now been halted for the last 12 straight days and don’t have an end date in sight at this time. The protestors vow to remain there until the government cancels the proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline that will partially run through the unceded land of the Wet’suwet’en First Nations.
The consequences of these blockades are already being felt across the country as the movement of goods has been greatly delayed. Experts now say that gas prices in Lower Mainland BC are expected to rise as a result of these protests.
Kent Fellows, an Alberta-based economist at the University of Calgary predicts the spike could be anywhere from 10 to 30 cents per litre. “If blockades persist you will definitely see an increase in fuel prices… A lot of the volume that is coming in from Alberta refineries to the Lower Mainland is now on rail.”
CTV News Vancouver interviewed commuters in the Vancouver area and they expressed their frustration.
“I mean, everything goes up all the time. Especially in this city (Vancouver). So it’s just another thing to endure,” driver Mike Freides said.
“You can’t go without gas, much like you can’t go without utilities or food. It’s above my paygrade to solve that problem.”
Trudeau recently held a meeting to attempt to remedy the problem of growing frustrations on both sides of the issue.
“I understand how worrisome this is, and difficult. We are going to continue to focus on resolving this situation quickly and peacefully,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The Port of Vancouver has also been affected by the demonstrations, preventing the loading and unloading of cargo.
“Demand for anchorage is currently exceeding the availability, causing a backlog of ships waiting to get into port,” said a spokesperson for the Port.
Teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted her support for the anti-pipeline protests that have stalled Canada’s economy and left tens of thousands stranded without train transportation.
On Tuesday she tweeted, “Support the Wet’suwet’en Nation and the pipeline protests happening now in Canada! #WetsuwenStrong.” Thunberg included a link to a “Wet’suwet’en Supporter Toolkit.”
The toolkit speaks of “revolution” and claims that reconciliation is dead: “The Wet’suwet’en have been violently invaded and ripped from our ancestral lands, sparking a REVOLUTION. Reconciliation is dead. The time is NOW to recognize indigenous sovereignty around the world! We are asking for folks to continue, harness the power of this catalyzing moment, create sustained action in solidarity, and #ShutDownCanada!”
Many Canadians were unimpressed including prominent conservative pundit Stephen Taylor who pointed out the negative affects these continued protests are having on the environment. “Thanks to the rail blockades, I’ve been flying more. So… win?”
The protests and blockades throughout Canada are a response to the raid of an anti-pipeline camp in northern British Columbia that was set up to oppose the building of the Coastal GasLink pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory.
Despite the protests, the Wet’suwet’en Tribal Council and the majority of hereditary chiefs support the pipeline project.
According to Global News, Premier Doug Ford’s house is currently being investigated by Toronto police’s hazardous materials team for a suspicious package. The package was reportedly opened by Ford’s wife, Karla.
There was reportedly white powder in the package that authorities have not yet been able to identify.
A spokesperson for the Toronto police informed Global News that officers received a call to show up at a house in Etobicoke on Tettenhall road where the Premier’s house is situated.
Blockades across the country continue to put a halt on the Canadian economy as goods cannot be transported to where they need to be. Prime Minister Trudeau has said that he wants to come to a quick and peaceful solution but that does not seem very plausible at this point.
BMO Capital Markets senior economist, Doug Porter, said that the coronavirus has negatively affected the global economy and the rail shutdown is an added extra pressure for Canada’s economy according to Financial Post.
“The ultimate cost will depend on the duration of the shutdown, and we have plenty of recent evidence to make an early assessment,” said Porter. “The November CN strike, which lasted more than a week, ended up carving less than 0.1 ppts from GDP that month. However, this shutdown threatens to be more open-ended, with the situation ‘fluid.’”
Manufacturers are assuming that their revenues will also be negatively affected by the rail blockades.
Today, Maple Leaf Foods president and chief operating officer, Curtis Frank along with President of CKF Inc., Ian Anderson noted at a press conference that “every day the rail stoppages continue, $850 million worth of manufactured goods are sitting idle.”
Other guests at the conference include ArcelorMittal Dofasco, BB Résaux Électriques, Demers Ambulances, J.D. Irving LTD., Énergie Valero and more.
Chief Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations was also scheduled to hold a press conference today in Ottawa with hopes of discussing the present Wet’suwet’en situation.