The federal government’s approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion served as a controversial commitment to oil pipeline development in B.C.
However, a new report from the Resource and Environmental Planning Program at Simon Fraser University says that commitment is no longer necessary, thanks to recent events south of the border.
The report argues that U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent revival of the previously-denied Keystone XL pipeline makes the Trans Mountain pipeline obsolete.
In fact, it says the negative effects of building the pipeline could outweigh the benefits.
In an interview with Simi Sara, Environmental Planning Program Director Dr. Thomas Gunton says most of all, putting a stop to the pipeline would sidestep all environmental risks.
LISTEN to the full interview below:
He also pointed to the fact that demand for oil has continued to stall, another major reason to stop production.
“When all of these projects were proposed three or four years ago, we had a much higher forecast for oil production and we definitely needed more pipelines. That’s completely changed.”
Gunton says that out of the four currently proposed pipelines – Trans Mountain, Keystone XL, Enbridge Line 3 and Energy East – only two are needed to meet current demand.
And with both Keystone XL and Enbridge Line 3 moving ahead, he believes Trans Mountain will largely go unused.
According to Gunton, the cost of that unused space would come straight from British Columbians, and it’s not the only cost we could see.
They find that expanding the current Trans Mountain pipeline would more than double the tolls paid moving that oil to Burnaby’s Chevron refinery, translating to higher prices at the gas pump.
“That will add somewhere in the vicinity of $100-million in extra cost to the consumer in gasoline and oil prices coming out of the Chevron Refinery, so that’s another downside.”
When it comes to why the pipeline is still going through, Gunton says it’s a flaw in the National Energy Board’s review process.
“We have this crazy situation where each project is evaluated on its own without looking at the other alternative projects. So we could end up running the worst projects, and more projects than we actually require.”
With costs mounting, and relevancy of the pipeline in question, Gunton thinks the government may no longer be as committed to Trans Mountain as they once were.