It seems like every couple of months, another shoddy study hits the street from anti-Canadian pipeline campaigners.
When it comes to carefully reviewed, approved and reapproved energy transmission infrastructure, long-time pipeline opponent Dr. Tom Gunton and his small team of academics at Simon Fraser University (SFU) have become the one-hit wonders of academic opposition.
Titled “Evaluation of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project,” the latest report of the research team at SFU’s School of Resource & Environmental Management offers no surprises in terms of its biased, negative findings.
For Tom Gunton, it’s par for the course, especially when it comes to this report’s faulty assumptions.
Let’s start with the fact the report double-counts pipeline projects, thereby calling into question the rest of the document.
Here’s how they do it: the report makes the claim that the economic viability of Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) has been hurt by market condition changes since the purchase of Trans Mountain by the federal government in August 2018.
But among the market changes Gunton et al cite are TMEP’s construction itself. That’s double-counting, and it’s a glaring flaw. But it’s not the only problem with the latest work.
The authors also claim “an additional factor adversely impacting Canadian oil production is the new International Maritime Organization shipping fuel standard to reduce sulphur emissions, which will put further downward pressure on Canadian oil production because Canadian heavy oil is high in sulphur.”
That’s simply false. The IMO shipping standard has been in effect for some 15 months and has produced absolutely no negative impact. The statement is scare mongering, apparently designed to promote an anti-pipeline result.
In fact, every reasonable forecast of world energy consumption anticipates oil will continue to play an important role in the global the energy supply mix for decades. Yet Gunton et al fail to acknowledge the need to replace long-term supply.
Canadians know it’s the lack of pipeline capacity that’s generated huge price differentials between Canadian and world markets. And they know it’s largely a result of those differentials that Canadians have lost jobs, investment and government revenues.
Contrary to Gunton and his team, it’s clear Canadian growth has struggled as a direct result of constraints on Canadian pipeline capacity, as the existing Trans Mountain pipeline is operating at maximum capacity.
I worry the communities that will suffer from such academic bias won’t simply be the long-standing resource towns we’ve all heard of, but the emerging Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities that have gradually built strong community legacies by participating in economic opportunities in energy.
That’s why, like most Canadians, I consider a project like TMEP to be absolutely central to Canada growing its exports, attracting more investment, increasing our energy supply and charting a path to greater community prosperity.
Cody Battershill is a Calgary realtor and founder / spokesperson for CanadaAction.ca, a volunteer-initiated group that supports Canadian energy development and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.