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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Trans Mountain Pipeline: Politics With a Purpose

Can We Build and Operate a Sustainable Pipeline?
I am very much in favour of the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline project.  As an Albertan, and therefore the owner of the natural resources it will transport, I acknowledge the special benefits as well as the concurrent burden associated with it.

To me this project should be a prototype for an integrated, comprehensive Triple-Bottom-Line approach a promote as part of an Alberta Party governance and evidence based decision-making model.  Triple Bottom Line comprehensive approaches include considerations for people, the planet and people concerns in any public policy decision.  The integrated aspect is best summarized as "All things considered, consider all things." 

Hard Choices to be Made
Governance is said to be about making "hard choice."  That includes priority setting and values trade-offs.  In this policy setting approach a policy a project may be driven by economics, like TransMountain.  However in the project analysis as to what should be the policy priority, the economics may dominate but they should not trump to the point where the environmental and social concerns are dismissed as irrelevant.

Hard policy choices by government is where our elected representative set policy priorities,determine the values trade-offs and advise the public, a.k.a. citizens, of their decisions and how they came to them.  We need to be aware of and accepting the consequences of such trade-offs with prior and fully-informed consent of society as well as indigenous peoples through our Treaty obligations.  Such acceptance must be with an on-going goal of anticipating and detecting, preventing and correcting ignorance and error on a continuous basis.

Albertans, as resource owners, must be assured this project is not just economically viable, that conclusion is unassailable, yet it could be even better.  Getting bitumen to domestic tidewater will get a much better market price, reduce market vulnerability by diversifying our market which is now 99% American, and provide good high paying jobs.

Pipeline economics however are like water is to soup, necessary but insufficient.  We need to be sure this project provides social benefits, especially to those indigenous communities in it's path.  We need to be sure that taxes that are levied are collected and not avoided by off-shore shenanigans we have discovered through the Panama Papers.

We also need to be vigilant and capable of dealing with ecological consequences of the pipeline operations.  Yes pipelines are the safest way to transport hydrocarbons, but are they a safe as they could be?  We need a new standard of continuous innovative technology adoption where industrial operations  are concerned as related to the environment.  This will make operations responsible, sustainable and productive in a full life cycle approach.

Politics With a Purpose
There are partisan politics around this project but it is more of a larger public policy concern that who is wining the court of public opinion battle.  So lets get beyond the "He said; She Said" of left vs right politics as usual.  Progressive Albertans can get more informed, take some positive action and help to make this project the best it can be, now and in the future.

Here is a link to an excellent Government of Alberta website that is key to helping Albertans to achieve those ends.  I encourage all progressive Albertans and especially Alberta Party members, friends and family to take this pipeline project to heart and help out.