MP Report: The taxpayer's pipeline

31 May, 2018, 17:16 | Author: Sheri Evans
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A veteran NDP MP had his colleagues in stitches Wednesday with colourful criticism of the Liberal government's move to buy Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline and the core assets related to its expansion for $4.5 billion.

Kinder Morgan Canada will continue to own some of the assets, including crude storage, rail terminals and a condensate pipeline, he said.

On Tuesday, B.C. Premier John Horgan vowed to continue to fight the pipeline in court.

Premier Scott Moe said he hopes Ottawa's plan works.

Horgan's court reference - to see if B.C. has the constitutional authority to pass a regulation to limit flows of diluted bitumen in the new pipeline pending additional scientific research on how to clean it up a potential spill - spooked Kinder Morgan investors.

The government's purchase price is reasonable if broken down into $3.5 billion for the existing pipeline and $1 billion to recoup money already spent on the expansion, said Richard Masson, former CEO of the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission and a fellow at the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy.

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The ensuing uncertainty, paired with opposition from environmental groups and some Indigenous communities in B.C., prompted Kinder Morgan to halt investment until the federal government could inject some certainty into the project.

Ross said Tuesday that she harbours doubts about the pipeline's economic viability, and anxious that the federal government would be on the hook for huge cleanup costs in case of a major spill.

"This allows us to get rid of the political risk around [the pipeline] because we [are imposing] federal jurisdiction over the project", he said.

Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr said that the political polarization over the pipeline's construction was atypical for Canada, and he suggested that the federal government's intervention would restore stability and certainty.

Other opposition parties weighed in on the announcement as well.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer vowed to make reviving Energy East a campaign issue and said he wouldn't put $4.5 billion on the table to get it done.

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"I have always been supportive of getting a pipeline to saltwater", she said. Kinder Morgan has been under pressure for carrying too much debt, he added, and while the company may have been legitimately concerned about the prospect of delays, it was also presented a good opportunity to de-leverage.

Canada on Tuesday agreed to buy the pipeline for C$4.5 billion ($3.5 billion) in an effort to save a project that faces formidable opposition from environmentalists and British Columbia officials anxious the pipeline could spill its tar-like heavy oil. "Really the only difference is Kinder Morgan's convinced Canada to pay for the project".

"This is the moment in history where Justin Trudeau has revealed that he never cared about Indigenous rights or reconciliation", said Will George, Tsleil-Waututh member and spokesperson for the Coast Salish Watch House.

"This move sets a bad precedent and signals to other prospective investors that large projects such as pipelines can not be built by private industry in Canada", said Aaron Wudrick, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Canada loses $15 billion every year on the sale of oil because the USA remains its only export customer, resulting in a lower price, Trudeau argues.

Sims anxious Canadians could be on the hook for more than just building the pipeline.

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