COLUMN: Are all Canadian energy projects equal?

I am hearing concerns over protests at the B.C. legislature over the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline

This week the House of Commons is adjourned this week to allow for MPs to be back home in our ridings where we can meet with local citizens and other groups and organizations.

The opportunity to hear concerns and challenges citizens have with our federal government is critically important to the work that we do as Members of Parliament.

This week I am hearing many concerns over the protests that occurred at the B.C. legislature over opposition to the construction of the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline.

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I have also heard concerns over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project now that reports recently stated construction costs of the pipeline expansion are expected to cost $12.6 billion. A significant increase from the previous $7.4 billion amount the was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when his Liberal government decided to purchase the pipeline.

There is also another energy-related project that I suspect will soon become more well known.

The Teck Frontier oil sands mine project potentially located north of Fort MacKay, Alta. is currently awaiting a federal approval from the Trudeau Liberal cabinet.

So what is the Teck Frontier project?

It is a $20.6 billion project that will create roughly 7,000 jobs during construction and generate $12 billion in tax revenues for Ottawa and $55 billion in tax and royalty revenues for Alberta over its 41-year life.

The project has spent a decade in various stages of licensing and reviews and has been given conditional approval from the joint federal-provincial review panel who declared the project to be in the public interest.

However, that environmental review process works differently then the process that exists today.

Opponents of the projects point out that the mine will generate an estimated 4.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.

There are also concerns related to wetlands, forest impact, wildlife as well Indigenous groups who support or oppose the project to name a few.

If the Trudeau Liberal government approves the project, opponents question how the Prime Minister can meet his promise that Canada will be net zero on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

If the project is rejected by the Liberal cabinet, supporters of the project believe serious harm will occur with the relationship between Alberta and the Federal Government that could threaten national unity.

While some dismiss these concerns, it should also be recognized that major greenhouse gas emitting projects have not been treated equally by this Liberal government across Canada.

One example in Quebec is a cement factory that was given an exemption from an environmental review.

This cement factory will emit between 1.8 and 2.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year and will be the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the entire province of Quebec.

Another example is from New Brunswick, where the Trudeau Liberal government gave a 95 per cent carbon tax exemption from dirty coal power.

The Belledune power plant, which burns a combination of coal and petroleum coke, emits up to 2.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gasses annually and was the second largest source of greenhouse gases in Atlantic Canada for 2016.

At that same time the largest emission generator in Atlantic Canada was the Irving Oil Ltd. refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. It is well known that refinery frequently receives oil offshore via tanker from countries who have no carbon taxes and little, if any, environmental policies

My question this week, do you think Canadian energy projects should be treated on an equal basis?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.

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