Mark Leiren-Young: Kinder Morgan's pipeline project is safe? Show me the science

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      I’m relieved and delighted that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has science on his side in the debate over the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. That’s fantastic news.

      So show me the science.

      One of Trudeau’s many promises when he ran for office was that, unlike in the dark ages of the Harper regime, the enlightened Liberals would base all decisions on scientific evidence.

      So, of course Trudeau attacked the B.C. government for having the audacity to propose research that the federal government scrupulously avoided during its rush to green-light the pipeline expansion—which would result in the extinction of the southern resident orcas, at least according to all the scientists I’ve spoken to.

      The 2014 National Energy Board report on the KM expansion states: “the Board finds that the operation of Project-related marine vessels is likely to result in significant adverse effects to the Southern resident killer whale.”

      Two years ago, when there were 83 southern resident orcas, I asked Canadian and American orca experts if a population this small could survive “significant adverse effects.” Everyone gave the exact same answer: absolutely not. I can’t imagine the answer has changed now that the population of iconic orcas has dropped to 76.

      One of Trudeau’s other promises was to unmuzzle Canada’s scientists and allow them to speak up about important scientific issues. Fantastic.

      Where’s the scientist who wants to speak up and argue that this increased tanker traffic would not result in the extinction of the irreplaceable cetacean community that markets B.C. to the world. Anyone? Bueller?

      Ben Stein made the phrase "anyone, anyone?" famous in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

      In 2016, Trudeau sent out a panel to consult B.C. communities about the Kinder Morgan expansion as part of an elaborate and expensive dog-and-pony show. When I spoke out about the impact the pipeline expansion would have on the orcas, I kept encountering activists who were thrilled that no pipeline fans had shown up.

      I suspected there was something fishy about the absence of anyone from Kinder Morgan telling us bitumen would be perfectly safe on our breakfast cereal. It seemed to me there was only one reason Kinder Morgan wouldn’t send spin doctors to present the pro-pipeline perspective: the fix was in.

      Trudeau recently confirmed the pipeline was promised to Alberta premier Rachel Notley in exchange for Alberta signing off on a carbon tax long before he sent out this panel to do public relations. Trudeau confessed. The fix was in.

      Science was never going to factor into this decision. Whatever the science said, Trudeau was more interested in supporting Alberta’s oil industry than the safety of B.C.’s orcas or oceans.

      Nobody’s surprised by federal horse trading. But striking that deal behind closed doors while staging mock public consultations is horse manure.

      Economist Robyn Allan has called Trudeau out on the magical job numbers associated with the pipeline. Apparently repeating that the project will create 15,000 jobs over and over doesn’t actually “manifest” 15,000 jobs.

      Who knew that Trudeau and Notley based their job projections on reading The Secret?

      Maybe these 15,000 jobs include 10,000 scientists typing 10,000 reports in support of Liberal policies?

      It’s time to call Trudeau out on his science.

      Where are the scientists who support the magical Liberal climate math claiming that the only way Canada can meet our international carbon commitments is to increase our production of bitumen?

      Where are the scientists who believe a bitumen spill can be cleaned up? Trudeau’s eco-voodoo consists of repeating loudly and proudly that he is “confident” the federal government’s ocean protection plans are enough to safeguard our orcas, our salmon, and our coast.

      So where are all these scientists who agree with him?