KM: Fact-checking Notley's talking points . . .

KM: Fact-checking Notley's talking points . . .

Postby Oscar » Sat May 26, 2018 3:41 pm

Fact-checking Kinder Morgan talking points: Notley Edition

[ https://canadians.org/blog/fact-checkin ... ey-edition ]

May 26, 2018 - 2:01 pm

(PHOTO: Emergency Rally to stop Kinder Morgan at Parliament Hill on May 22, 2018)

As Kinder Morgan’s May 31 decision deadline for their Trans Mountain Expansion project approaches, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and her NDP government keep doubling down on how ardently they can support the project. This week was a continuation of this trend as Notley fiercely pushed for the pipeline in a series of tweets, speeches, and interviews.

While it's clear Kinder Morgan's project would violate Indigenous rights and our commitment to the Paris Agreement, it's often less clear that the figures used to promote the pipeline are at best misleading and at worst patently false. The oil & gas industry and the federal government of course bear much responsibility for this, but it is still particularly jarring to hear this misinformation from a premier who campaigned on environmental leadership and a promise to uphold the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Here are some quick corrections of the pro-Kinder Morgan spin we have heard from Premier Notley this week:

1. “Kinder Morgan will contribute to and support over 250,000 Canadian jobs”
[ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/a ... -1.4675675 ]

Notley cited this statistic in response to federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh speaking out at our May 22nd emergency rally against Kinder Morgan in Ottawa [ https://canadians.org/blog/council-cana ... 4000-views ]. Even after considerable research, it’s hard to tell what she might be referring to. She may be suggesting that the project will “contribute to and support” (a) all 250,000 construction jobs that exist in B.C. or (b) each of the 250,000 jobs in all of Canadian mining, oil and gas, and logging combined [ https://www.nationalobserver.com/2016/1 ... adas-water ], but either of these implications are laughable.

The 250,000 number is larger than the usual (already vastly overstated) figure of 15,000 construction jobs that is a common feature of industry, federal government, and Alberta government talking points on the pipeline. The 15,000 jobs figure has already been debunked in detail by independent economist Robyn Allen here [ https://ipolitics.ca/2017/08/30/those-t ... yre-bogus/ ]. Kinder Morgan’s own submission to the National Energy Board stated that the project would create 90 permanent jobs and 2,500 construction jobs for per year for two years (while some indirect job creation would be expected from the pipeline, it has not been reliably measured – you can read why here) [ http://www.cbc.ca/radio/the180/politica ... -1.3785071 ]. .

And it is worth pointing out that putting public money towards green economy activities like renewable energy, transit, and reclaiming abandoned oil extraction sites [ https://www.reclaimalberta.ca/ ] are between 8 and 15 times more efficient pathways to creating good jobs [ http://edmontonjournal.com/business/ene ... een-report ]. These kinds of investments would pave the way towards a fairer, climate-safe future instead of pushing us further down the wrong path.

2. “Kinder Morgan will contribute roughly $15 billion a year to Canada’s GDP”
[ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/a ... -1.4675675 ]


Notley is likely referring to a 2013 report from CIBC of the total cost to the Canadian economy of not having unlimited access to foreign markets for its oil – not just one pipeline. A 2018 report from Scotiabank with updated prices puts the number at $10.7 billion, but even this has been shown to be about 10 times too high for not taking into account that relatively few barrels are vulnerable to a price differential, for example by independent economist Robyn Allen here [ http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/r ... of-fiction ].

As with the jobs number above, Notley has used a dramatically higher number than the already misleading ones more typically cited by pro-pipeline parties, which are “$1 billion in added GDP a year” and “$50 billion in government revenue over 20 years”. These numbers come from a Conference Board of Canada study that uses a flawed modelling methodology that economist Trevor Tombe has joked is like saying "okay, let’s define all the costs as benefits and then double them." [ http://www.cbc.ca/radio/the180/politica ... -1.3785071 ]. Mark Lee debunks the study in detail here [ https://www.corporatemapping.ca/kinder- ... o-be-true/ ].

3. Implying Alberta’s oil sector represents close to 10% of Canada’s GDP.
[ http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/r ... t-be-built ]


It’s actually 2.2%.

Notley never outright claims the 10% number, but in this op-ed, Notley criticizes Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson for saying that the oil sands is a small fraction of our economy, but then conveniently uses the statistic for Canada’s entire energy sector, which is 10%. If you unpack the GDP from the energy sector it looks like this:

Natural Resources Canada Figure - Source: Natural Resources Canada, 2016
[ http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/facts/ene ... nomy/20062 ]

This kind of talk of course also obscures the bigger questions of whether the oil sands will continue to be in profitable a world that is transitioning away from fossil fuels, and how we build an economy that doesn’t rely on the exploitation of that land, air, and water that sustain us.

4. “We have to show that we can make decisions that respect the rule of law”
[ https://twitter.com/rachelnotley/status ... 5182895104 ]


As Will Horter points out in the Tyee here [ https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2018/05/23/K ... -Rule-Law/ ], rule of law is: “the principle that all people and institutions are subject to and accountable to law that is fairly applied and enforced.” So, respecting rule of law would mean making sure the project (went through a) had a full and unbiased review process, which we know now was not the case because the Trudeau administration instructed public servants to make sure the review process ended in approval [ https://www.nationalobserver.com/2018/0 ... tain-files ]. Respecting the rule of law would also mean waiting for all court challenges to the projects to be resolved before beginning construction.

It’s also worth considering the ethics of continuing to assert a Canadian legal system on unceded Indigenous territories.

***

While this is (a) whole other topic on its own, it is worth noting that despite the commonly repeated idea that Notley has “no choice” but to push hard for Kinder Morgan if she wants to get re-elected, there’s a lot of compelling arguments as to why this is a strategic misstep. Why tie your vision for the province to a pipeline that looks less and less likely to go through? And why put all your focus on selling pipelines better than Alberta’s right-wing United Conservative Party when you could instead outflank them on the many other issues (healthcare, education, economic diversification) Albertan voters care about?

As we prepare for Kinder Morgan’s May 31 deadline for a decision on whether to proceed, remember that you can send a message to telling Trudeau to respect Indigenous rights and BC's no to Kinder Morgan [ https://secure.canadians.org/page/22680/action/1 ].

You can also help by supporting Indigenous-led and frontline opposition by donating to the StopKM legal fund [ https://stopkmlegalfund.org/ ] towards the legal defence costs stemming from civil disobedience, the pull together campaign [ https://pull-together.ca/ ] for Indigenous legal challenges to KM, help the Tiny House Warriors [ https://www.gofundme.com/tinyhouse2 ] and the Beaver Lake Cree’s legal challenge to the Albertan and Canadian governments to protect their land from tar sands expansion [ https://raventrust.com/tar-sands-trial/ ].


Bronwen Tucker's blog
Council of Canadians Prairies-NWT regional organizer
[ https://canadians.org/blogs/bronwen-tucker ]
Oscar
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