Should the Province of Alberta buy the Trans Mountain Pipeline from Kinder-Morgan if they want to walk away from the project? That question was posed to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley today and she responded with an emphatic ‘Yes!’.
It has become abundantly clear, whether you are for or opposed to this particular pipeline or not, that having the relatively simple twinning of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline fail to be built would signify the end of even medium scale infrastructure projects in Canada.
There will always be interest groups and affected people that have some legitimate claim against a large project. The standard for projects should not be keeping everyone happy. The standard for infrastructure projects MUST be if they are in the national interest. That national interest contains a giant list important factors including:
At the heart of the Canadian Federal Governments announcement today about fixing the process that determines if a large scale project is in the best interest of Canada or not, is a desire to limit ability Provincial, Municipal and interest groups (like ‘First Nations’) to stall approved projects. The idea is to:
increase consultation so everyone’s voice is heard
set firm and visible rules for industry so that “goal posts” are not being moved after the fact
determine what is in Canada’s best interest, when that interest is at odds with local interest
These are clearly admirable goals. To achieve those goals there are now going to be three structures that industry must pass through to get Federal Government support:
A new ‘Impact Assessment Agency of Canada‘ will do the preliminary investigation to determine the environmental effects of a project
The existing ‘National Energy Board’ is demoted and renamed ‘Canadian Energy Regulator‘ but still be responsible for determining the technicalities of a project
The ‘Federal Minister of the Environment‘ will have the final say if a project is viable and in Canada’s interest
So now the questions are, will these changes allow:
Industry to decide that spending many millions of dollars to go through an elongated approval process that will have a definitive outcome be worth while?
Provincial, Municipal and interest groups (like ‘First Nations’) to be heard and listened to?
There has been much debate over the process and all agree something big had to change:
When industry works on large scale projects deemed to be in the Canadian national interest after years of consultation and vetting that are still blocked by local and regional interests, there is a big problem.
When interest groups (i.e. some ‘First Nations’, Municipal governments (i.e. Vancouver) local and Provincial governments (i.e. BC) feel empowered to block large scale projects that adversely affect the rest of the country, there is an even bigger problem.
Dennis McConaghy, a former senior executive at Trans Canada Pipelines thinks these changes will not achieve the desired goals: