Let’s stop muddying the pipeline debate with false narratives – by BArrie McKenna (Globe and Mail – September 12, 2016)


OTTAWA – Suppose you’re concerned about the destruction of Canada’s forests. So you join a campaign fighting the construction of a new highway in northern British Columbia – a road that would make it easier for logging companies to tap vast new timber reserves. The road’s critics throw up a host of objections, including the danger of runaway trucks, diesel fumes, noise pollution and traffic.

But it’s not really the road opponents don’t like. It’s the logging itself. And unfortunately, stopping the road won’t stop the harvest – not in British Columbia, not in the rest of Canada, nor anywhere else in the world. As long as the world depends on wood to make homes, furniture, diapers and printer paper, there will be logging.

Perhaps you’ve guessed already. This isn’t a column about logging. It’s about Energy East, a proposed 4,500-kilometre pipeline that would transport 1.1 million barrels of oil sands crude from Western Canada to refineries in Eastern Canada as well as tankers for export.

It’s time to stop muddying the pipeline debate. It’s not about pipeline safety. Energy East, like other large pipeline projects, has become an unfortunate proxy in the broader battle over climate change.

Hundreds of oil and gas pipelines already criss-cross this country. Some are buried a few centimetres beneath those bike trails many of us enjoy. Many others run just beyond urban backyards. And almost no one complains.

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