A Letter to my Member of Parliament • May 29, 2017

I call for an open and resolutely candid public discussion about the emissions implications of continued expansion of oil sands production to 2040.

On November 29, 2016, the Government of Canada announced its decision approving the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.  The economic rationale supporting the pipeline decision is the expected near-doubling of Alberta’s oil sands production between 2014 and 2040. That expansion promises economic growth, employment, strong exports, and revenues for governments. But growing bitumen production is also the largest and fastest growing source of CO2 emissions in the Canadian economy. The Liberal Government has committed to make deep cuts in Canada’s total emission by 2030.

The question is whether we can achieve a 30% cut in Canada’s total emissions by 2030, down to 523 Mt (as promised in Paris in December 2015) if emissions from expanding oil sands production keep rising. This is the fundamental question.

In this May 29, 2017 letter sent to my Member of Parliament, Liberal Joyce Murray, I question the adequacy of the pipeline approval process during the past eighteen months. I examine each stage of the process. I show how the impact of increasing oil sands emissions on our ability to meet the 2030 reduction target was completely excluded from each stage the government’s inquiry process. No public review ever answered the fundamental question. I also focus on events since the November 29 pipeline announcement – and in particular on the Pan Canadian Framework, a document released by the government on December 9, 2016.

On December 18, 2016, three other Liberal MPs elected from British Columbia published an op-ed piece in the Vancouver Sun, defending the pipeline decision. After recounting the economic benefits of the project, they made this claim

In addition, greenhouse gas emissions associated with upstream oil development are accounted for and fit within our government’s climate action plan, the Pan Canadian Framework for Climate Change and Clean Growth. 

— Pam Goldsmith-Jones, Terry Beech, Jonathan Wilkinson,
Vancouver Sun, December 18, 2016 (emphasis added)

We are told that the fundamental question has been answered.  In my letter to Joyce Murray MP, I carefully examine whether her colleagues’ claim is warranted – whether it is supported by the evidence found in the Framework document.