By Dave Schneider
*The following article was co-compiled by a small group of Official Opposition MLAs, whom each week get together to talk through a legislative policy issue. As part of the process, a short commentary is compiled and then edited.
There are times when the outcomes fall well short of intentions that people are anticipating. How they react to those shortcomings speaks volumes about their ability to adapt. Governments are often victims of failed or flawed ideologies that result in varying degrees of shortcomings; they too must have the ability to adapt.
Government decisions that have created substantial barriers to building new pipelines are the continuation of policies that result in a higher risk method of transportation. The unintended consequence of shipping crude oil by rail is the substantially higher risk factor and a substantially higher carbon footprint that goes along with that.
It is 4.5 times safer to move oil and gas by pipeline than it is to move the same volume the same distance by rail in Canada, according to a study released this past summer by the Fraser Institute. The study conclusions are based on data compiled over a decade from the Canadian Transportation Safety Board and Transport Canada.
New regulations in North America are mandating the DOT-111s railcars that were at the centre of the Lac-Mégantic be replaced. The DOT-111s railcars that were at the centre of one of the worst derailments in Canadian history, that resulted in the deaths of 47 people and destroyed half of their downtown area, must be replaced with a safer version by May of 2017.
This does little to deal with the human error that was ultimately determined to be the cause of the disaster. The fleet of designated crude oil transportation railcars in North America is estimated to be 87,500 by the end of 2015, which will bear a huge capital cost to rail companies to upgrade the entire fleet. The cost will be passed on to you, the consumer, as the cost of transportation rises accordingly.
The reported reasoning behind the rejection of the Keystone pipeline application claims it was done for environmental protection reasons. That was the intent, however, the data tells a different story. The U.S. State Department’s own environmental impact study shows emissions are 40 per cent higher moving oil by rail as opposed to pipeline.
Along with an increase in emissions, the State Department’s study found costs are substantially higher (three times) with rail transportation versus pipelines. These additional costs associated with the rejection of pipelines are a major contributor, as to whether projects are economically viable, and that directly translates into unemployment numbers.
The intentions of those that oppose the building of more cost-efficient and environmentally safer pipelines have not been bolstered by the undesired outcomes based on the actual data.
Regardless of how genuine the intentions are, sometimes the outcomes can have unintended but overshadowing consequences.
Alberta’s premier has fundamentally opposed the approval and construction of pipelines based on environmentally ideological beliefs that just don’t deliver the desired results of her intentions. The data also shows time and again the outcomes of shipping by rail will have a far worse impact on the environment versus those of a pipeline.
Even with good intentions by the premier, it will be an all around appalling outcome for Albertans.