Supporting pipeline development
In Alberta, New Year’s celebrations have usually brought with them a sense of future joy and prosperity. However, this year, there is a lot of apprehension about the state of our economy, especially for those whose livelihood is directly connected to our energy sector.
At this time last year, the price of oil was midway down its steep decline from more than $100 a barrel, to the dismal levels we experience today. Estimates vary about how long this downturn will last but this already means thousands of layoffs every month.
Oil prices are beyond the control of our federal and provincial governments. However, both need to recognize that improved market access is a central part of the solution to our current economic challenges. Areas in northern Alberta, including Peace River, Athabasca and Cold Lake, sit on top of 168 billion barrels of recoverable oil sands deposits. With current technology, that is enough to sustain more than 100 years of production, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in tax revenue. But without the infrastructure to get our product to market, we are working at a significant disadvantage. Right now, we are getting lower prices than our competitors. This means less development, fewer jobs, and less opportunity for Albertans and Canadians.
New pipelines will help resolve our market access problem. Despite the current slump in prices, demand for energy products endures, along with a need to transport it. We can transport our product by rail, but rail has some significant downsides. Rail is unlikely to solve the whole problem because of limited capacity. As we’ve seen, rail accidents can be catastrophic, arguably more so than pipeline leaks. And new pipeline technology should make leakage very unlikely. Finally, rail emits a tremendous amount of carbon dioxide in transit. Environmentalists should favour pipelines over rail as a transportation solution to reduce emissions.
As your MP, I support responsible pipeline development in Canada. Pipelines help create jobs and opportunity, and are better for the environment. The Northern Gateway Pipeline could have been a significant booster for our local economy in Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan. However, the prime minister’s imposition of a moratorium on tanker traffic in northern B.C. puts the breaks on this vital project.
Stopping Northern Gateway and other pipeline projects will hurt Canadian families. Many of the social programs we enjoy at the provincial level are funded by revenues generated by oil and gas. Some of the money we make is sent to fund social programs in other provinces. (Another topic for another day). Arbitrary politically-imposed limits to market access will limit our ability to care for those who need our help.
As your MP, I will continue to fight for our energy sector and for the many families in Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan who depend on it.
Garnett Genuis is the member of Parliament for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Genuis was first elected in October 2015.
Published: December 30, 2015