Clearing the Air on the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

Clearing the Air on The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion cover

Victory! After 12 years, the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) is now complete – a huge win for Canadian families, the environment, and the economy!

Even after the project’s successful completion, anti-development activists continue to complain about the pipeline’s existence and spread falsehoods about its economic viability and environmental performance.

We are here to clear the air on these misconceptions that have been pushed by anti-resource prosperity opponents in Canada for more than a decade. Also see:

Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Now Complete

#1 - TMX is a "White Elephant"

STATEMENT: The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion is a “white elephant” project; it is useless or troublesome and its cost is out of proportion to what it will earn.

FACT: At $34 billion, the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion’s economic benefits to Canada far surpass its cost. Over the next two decades, the value of TMX’s earnings (before depreciation and interest) is projected to be anywhere between $26 billion and $38 billion [1].

Additionally, for Canadian oil producers, TMX will provide lower-cost access to markets abroad, raising oil prices at home and reducing the Western Canadian Select (WCS) discount to the Western Texas Intermediate (WTI), which costs Canada’s economy billions of dollars every year [2].

The economic benefits don’t stop there. Last month, the Bank of Canada predicted a 0.25 percentage point increase in Q2 growth from the new pipeline expansion, which is no small move for a $3 trillion economy [1].

To suggest that TMX is not economically viable doesn’t line up with analyses by some of Canada’s top economists.

#2 - TMX Endangers Canada's Coastal Communities

STATEMENT: Canada’s coastal communities and ecosystems are threatened by a potential spill by the Trans Mountain pipeline.

FACT: Since 1956, vessels from the Trans Mountain Pipeline’s Westridge Marine Terminal have been transporting petroleum products safely through Port Metro Vancouver without a single spill from tanker operations.

Canada’s coastal shipping safety regulations are robust and well-managed, with important risk controls for all tanker traffic. Transport Canada, the Pacific Pilotage Authority, Canadian Coast Guard, and Port of Vancouver establish, implement and monitor regulations and practices for oil tanker traffic [3].

With the expansion, Trans Mountain has made significant investments to double the existing spill response capacity and significantly reduce response time. The pipeline facilitated an investment of $150 million towards the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) to establish six new response facilities, hire 135 new personnel, and buy 43 new vessels including sill response craft and barges [4].

To say that Canada’s coastal communities and ecosystems are threatened by TMX doesn’t line up with the historical facts, nor with the investments being made into safety and mitigation efforts.

#3 - Pipe Used to Build TMX is Low Quality

STATEMENT: The pipe used to complete the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion was of “questionable” quality.

FACT: Pipe used in TMX are from the highest quality steel, manufactured to stringent Canadian Standards Association (CSA) specifications.  From production to transportation to installation, quality management processes ensure the pipeline fully meets its requirements under CSA guidelines [5].

TMX requested variances during construction which were approved by the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) and scrutinized under the Quality Management Plan standards for material quality, quality management, and testing for the pipeline project.

To say that the pipe used in TMX is questionable is disingenuous at best.

#4 - TMX's Leak Detection System is Not Complete

STATEMENT: The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion has an “incomplete” leak detection system.

FACT: The original Trans Mountain has two systems which monitor the pipeline continuously for changes in operational parameters that may indicate there is a leak. These include [6]:

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System – allows operators to control pumps and valves along the pipeline and monitors the rate-of-flow, pressure, temperature, and density of product, among other things.

Leak Detection System – compares operational data to a theoretical flow model, which helps identify any anomalies outside prescribed norms that may indicate a leak.

The pipeline expansion includes leak detection advancements and improvements, implementing a second system that operates in parallel with the existing ones above and will encompass the original project as well. TMX’s current system goes above and beyond Canada’s current regulations, maximizing the systems’ ability to detect leaks [7].

To say that TMX’s leak system is “incomplete” just doesn’t line up with the facts.

#5 - First Nations Do Not Support TMX

STATEMENT: First Nations have never given Trans Mountain consent to occupy their territories.

FACT: As part of the consultation process, Canada sent 60 representatives to meet with 120 Indigenous communities across Alberta and British Columbia. According to the federal government, of the 129 Indigenous groups potentially affected by the pipeline, 120 either support it or do not oppose it [7].

As of February 2022, TMX had signed benefit agreements with 69 Indigenous groups in B.C. and Alberta, representing more than $580 million in economic opportunities [8].

While a few First Nations do oppose TMX, it isn’t honest to have this conversation about Indigenous support for the project without recognizing the widespread support it has from these communities along its route.

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If it were left to activists, Canada would keep all of its natural resource wealth in the ground. This approach just does not work for Canadian families who are looking to balance economic prosperity with environmental progress. We can do both.

Join us on our social media accounts to learn more about the responsible development of Canada's natural resources and how these sectors underpin a strong economy for all Canadians from coast to coast.


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