National interest, not Lower Mainland interest, behind pipeline approval

Two & Out
By James Peters
December 2, 2016 - 4:00pm Updated: December 2, 2016 - 4:37pm

KAMLOOPS — Bad news: the National Energy Board does not have BC's best interests in mind.

But good news: the National Energy Board does not have Alberta's best interests in mind, either.

The NEB, like the entire federal government, should make decisions that are in the interests of the country as a whole.

Because energy projects are deemed to be in the national interest, they are the jurisdiction of Ottawa, not the individual provinces.

And that's how you come to this week's decision on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, a project that is expected to deliver financial benefits to the country as a whole, even if the people of the Lower Mainland feel they've been thrown under the bus.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put on his serious face, used his most sincere voice, and assured Vancouverites that he didn't think the pipeline would pose a danger to the coast, the wildlife and the people of BC.

And maybe that's the case.

Maybe the pipeline will result in fewer train cars carrying oil, maybe there will never be a major leak or spill, and maybe the tankers will slip in and out of Burrard Inlet with nary an incident.

It's a risk Trudeau is apparently willing to take, especially just a few weeks after announcing the planned implementation of a national carbon price.

Climate experts will tell you that national carbon price will do more to positively impact the world environment than blocking pipelines would.

And perhaps that's something all of us should take into consideration when we judge this government's decision on Trans Mountain.

Because, while the federal government makes decisions based on the national interest, there is no government to make decisions in the interest of the entire globe.

Justin Trudeau can put his name on as many Paris agreements as he'd like, but ultimately, all of the signatories will act for the benefit of their own countries.

All of us suffer from NIMBYism in one form or another: Not In My Backyard.

The way we feel about the Line 3 pipeline going through the prairies - that is, not much - is the way most of Canada feels about Trans Mountain.

In this case, opponents may tie up this approval in the courts for months or years, but I don't see any way they can stop what the government has determined is in the national interest.