Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Pipeline is being built (so shut up already.)

It seems to me that there are a lot of people in Canada confused about the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project. Some folks, (particularly in British Columbia) don't want the pipeline built at all, because its product is oil, something they would rather do without, or because that oil produces an environmental risk, (which it does, in any form.) Some folks (particularly in Alberta) want the pipeline built because its construction and existence means continued employment in the area, continued revenues created from the product itself. Then there is a third group of people made up of folks (from all over Canada, including the west) that either do or don't want the pipeline built, but regardless of their thoughts or feelings on the matter, believe that the project is “on again, off again” depending on the decisions of politicians or their parties. From these folks we get things like social media commentaries, protests, advertisements in media and entertainment, even the Conservative Party has made “Build the Pipeline” the major component of their platform in the 2019 election.

The Pipeline Project is not, in any way, being hindered by anything, nor has it ever been. The pipeline project is an expansion of what is already there. The new pipeline is going to run right beside the old pipeline, that has been there since 1953. The foundation for this work, the ground preparation, the laying of rock, the purchasing of that rock, has already happened. Tens of millions of dollars have already been spent on the laying of this foundation. The foundation has already begun being put in place. The pipeline is happening, it's being built currently, as you read these words. Our prime minister has not stopped any part of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project, neither have the provincial governments, environmental groups, Native groups, no one, ever, anywhere. (The current downturn of work in the Alberta oil fields has nothing to do with the TMPE.)

So why do we have expensive campaigns to sway the minds of the public, one way or the other? Why do we have a political party whose entire platform is centred around a fictional problem? Why do we have this tension in western Canada over an economical concern that doesn't exist? Why do we have to think about all these made up intentions? I think the answers lie in usual arenas of social engineering, we think these things because if we're thinking about them, we're not thinking about other things. It's a purposeful distraction. If the pipeline equals jobs for a generation, then that is what we need to bother ourselves with, money. I think this entirely the reason for any pro TMPE campaign. The anti-TMPE campaign is entirely about concern for the environment. So, in the collective eye of Canadian society, on one side of the argument is a redneck oil worker and on the other side is a tree-hugging hippy. If we're thinking about jobs, we're thinking short term and more importantly, not long term. In the long term, there is only bad news, so let's ignore that...

The environmental concerns around the production and use of petroleum products are real. No one is contesting the detrimental effects of burning fossil fuels, (at least, no one who should be listened to. To be anti-science is to be anti-fact and therefore pro-fiction.) However, folks who advocate for the continued use of petroleum products do so from within the comforts of establishment. There simply is no alternative to fossil fuel. We have no solar arrays, wind farms, tide generators, etc. For the pro-oil side, the onus is on the environmentalists to come up with alternatives, or shut up. (Literally, this is entirely their meme exemplified.) We also have no alternatives for the byproducts of oil production, most notably plastics. “Do you want to stop having all the plastic things you have now?” ask oil proponents, already knowing the answer. 

Our required transition from dirty energy to clean and from finite resources to renewable will happen anyway, because it must. This is not the point of this essay. I'm not here to argue for or against the production or use of oil. I have no solution. I just want the argument about the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion to end, because it doesn't really exist in the first place. You can have your opinions about whether or not the expansion, or the use of oil in general, should continue or not. You can have your opinions about safety, health, politics and the economy. What you can't say is “the pipeline is being held up/stopped/hindered or held in question.” The gravel has been purchased. Here is the map of where the pipe is going, right beside the existing pipe, for the most part. Stop being duped into having an argument that doesn't exist by marketeers.