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  • Northern Gateway Pipeline May Not Benefit Ontario Consumers

Whether you like it or hate it, the Northern Gateway pipeline is here to stay. Though most of the debate is centered on the west coast amid environmental concerns, economic plans, and criticism involving Native rights. And yet nothing escapes Ontario’s purview in this country, and that’s why all the pipelines flowing through Ontario may be bad for Ontario.

The Pipelines Will Set Back Ontario’s Environmental Achievements

imagesThe environmental consequences of the Northern Gateway are well understood, but not very well known by your average Canadian. And unfortunately, for us, the environmental impact of bitumen shipping has been so politicized by either side as to downplay or remove the environmental element altogether.

The truth is that a Northern Gateway pipeline would offer substantially more environmental damage than the profit that would be earned from building one. And that’s not say Ontario would have any consequence to speak of should a disaster fall another province. However, the cost of a spill would invariably affect everyone’s bottom line.

Currently, environmentalists are concerned that the volatile, acidic, and sulfuric bitumen is at greater risk for a pipeline burst than crude oil, due to it’s composition. And yes, promises have been made as to the safety of these pipelines, but they don’t consider that, from 2000 to 2011, Canada saw 1,047 pipeline incidents.

See an interactive map of pipeline incidents HERE.

The chance of bitumen ruptures are even higher. Worse yet because we don’t even know yet how we can even clean bitumen up, so naturally the costs will be even higher as well. And who, we ask, would be on the hook for this cost? Taxpayers.

The West Coast and East Coast See the Benefit, Ontario Doesn’t

leakWith the west coast seeing their Northern Gateway Pipeline come to fruition, and the east coast seeing the potential Energy East Pipeline project coming along in the next few years. While the Northern Gateway doesn’t directly affect Ontario, Energy East does, as Ontario will be supplying the land and infrastructure in order to maintain it.

This would come at the expense of Ontario’s industry, forcing development within the province that doesn’t directly share in the profits a pipeline would generate. There’s no better example of this in practice than the controversy in British Colombia not receiving its fair share for maintaining a pipeline to Kitimat.

And much like wind development in the province, oil development would present the problem of unfairly hurting rural communities. One particular concern is the job migration that would occur from both EE and NG pipelines. Alberta had the highest growth in employment in 2013 while Ontario stagnated, and an oil boom is to blame.

Overall, nothing is more apt to explain this arrangement than Tommy Douglas’ analogy of The Cream Separator. Alberta gets the fat and, well, Ontario and BC just gets the spills.

We do not maintain a position against pipeline development simply because there’s no point in being opposed to an economic opportunity. But the economic opportunity presented would put the money in Alberta, and the spills and waste in Ontario. Is that right for Ontario, or should the benefits be shared more equally?

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