Let’s stop fighting and get something done on the energy front ~ Hugh Holland


Canada is home to the world’s third largest oil deposit that is estimated to be worth $8 trillion. Electric vehicles are gradually gaining acceptance and manufacturers are building capacity to make them, but the world will need oil for several more decades because no government is going to cut off the transportation of food and supplies before the global fleet of 1.2 billion vehicles can be converted. Ironically however, there appears to be more activists trying to block oil production than are buying electric cars.  Canada is the only stable democracy that can produce oil at planned rates for as long as it is needed. But getting a fair-world price for Canada’s vast oil deposits has been inhibited for decades by lack of pipeline capacity to get the product to market.  The biggest problem seems to be environmentalists and all political parties putting partisan politics and their own jobs ahead of the national interest.

The Harper government approved the Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat BC, based on many recommendations from the National Energy Board to reduce pipeline spill risk and to utilize world-class marine safety measures used successfully for years on a similar coastline in Norway. But one of the first actions taken by the new Trudeau government in 2015, largely to secure votes from environmentalists, was to terminate the Northern Gateway pipeline and lock in that decision with an oil tanker ban on the northern BC coastline.

The new Trudeau government believed that a series of measures to engage First Nations, and reduce oilfield and other emissions, could result in a “social licence” to achieve both environmental and economic goals. But events demonstrate that environmental extremists are only interested in their single-minded goal of blocking oil sands production, regardless of other consequences.

TransCanada gave up on their proposed Energy East Pipeline to the East Coast due to spill concerns from Montreal and the imposing of a new hurdle to include emissions from burning the oil in any pipeline analysis. That is a meaningless measure because emissions from burning oil are the same from all sources, and other sources would quickly replace Canada’s production, for as long as the other sources last.

The Trudeau government put their support behind a project to triple capacity of the existing Kinder-Morgan pipeline. That would triple tanker traffic through the much more densely populated port of Vancouver. This project is now strongly resisted by southern BC First Nations and municipalities, and is resulting in a trade war between BC and Alberta.

Meanwhile, First Nations in Northern BC are seeking jobs to become self-sufficient in their area. They developed a more logical proposal called the Eagle Spirit “energy corridor” to move upgraded Alberta bitumen, BC natural gas, and hydroelectricity along a route from Alberta and eastern BC to the more accessible port of Prince Rupert. The Eagle Spirit proposal (outlined in several links below) would carry one million barrels per day; the same as the Energy East pipeline and twice the additional capacity of the Kinder-Morgan pipeline. Eagle Spirit offers the least problematic marine route to reach the huge and growing Asian markets for both Alberta Oil and BC gas.  The Eagle Spirit project leaders say they have support of 95 per cent of First Nations along the route.  They say that environmentalists want to build parks on First Nations land and lock them into perpetual poverty.

The Trudeau government’s ban on tanker traffic in Canadian waters could kill the Eagle Spirit proposal, so Eagle Spirit is proposing to build the terminal near the port of Hyder Alaska. The state of Alaska and the town of Hyder are fully supportive of resource development. The tragedy is that billions of dollars and hundreds of good jobs would also go to Alaska, due to Canada’s questionable ban on tanker traffic.

We are left with the federal government supporting a project opposed by First Nations in southern BC, and the federal government opposing a project supported by First Nations in northern BC.

If all parties can find a way to save face, there is a solution that would enable Canada to meet both environmental goals and economic necessities. Replacing Alberta’s coal-based electricity with safe, clean, affordable Advanced Nuclear Power, and using the FREE and clean surplus reactor heat to eliminate emissions from natural-gas-based heat for oil sands extraction, upgrading and refining would enable Alberta to produce more oil and meet emissions targets.  Refining Alberta bitumen in Alberta would reduce the risk and consequences of spills, and resistance to pipelines. Adjusting the ban on tanker traffic to enable the Eagle Spirit Energy Corridor to terminate in BC rather than Alaska, would keep investment and jobs in Canada, and help northern First Nations to achieve their goal of becoming self-sufficient.  Environmental extremists will never agree, but can reasonable people in all political parties find a way to work together to implement a bigger and better vision for the good of Canada?

Hugh Holland is a retired engineering and manufacturing executive now living in Huntsville, Ontario.

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About the AFCR™
The Advanced Fuel CANDU reactor (AFCR™) is a 700MW Class Generation III reactor based on the highly successful CANDU 6® and Enhanced CANDU 6® (EC6®) reactors with a number of adaptations to meet the latest Canadian and international standards. Its fuel flexibility allows it to use recycled uranium or thorium as fuel. It has a heavy-water moderator and heavy-water coolant in a pressure tube design. CANDU reactors can be refuelled on power and have one of the highest lifetime capacity factors among the world’s reactors.



  1. Frances Botham on

    After reading this, my immediate impulse was to respond with reams of data regarding major oil spills in western Canada waterways and the subsequent effects on the health of the people, wildlife and all aspects of the adjacent environment. One cannot dismiss frequent pipeline leaks destroying the environment and the atrocitious destruction of the land and the wildlife habitat of the Alberta oil sands. The people living in proximity to this pollution are, according to research and statistics, suffering greatly increased rates of cancer and other diseases and illness. In this greed for money we are killing off the fish, wilflife and people.
    As always, humankind justifies pollution and environmental degradation with the quest for the almight dollar. Never mind that the populace is facing added disease and dying as a result. Change surely needs to be made, but consequences have to be the considered priority.

      • Patrick Flanagan on

        Interesting fact, but not relevant to the issue. The reasons for the improvement in life expectancy were primarily reduced infant mortality, discovery of modern drugs to treat infectious diseases, and a reduction in deaths from circulatory diseases. Those changes do not give us license to poison the environment for ourselves and future generations.

      • Frances Botham on

        Hugh, I think your reply must be intended for someone else’s comment, because I did not make any reference to the lifespan of Canadians. My remarks were about the detrimental effects of oil spills to those who live in proximity to them. I was referring to the health effects of oil spills that have repeatedly occurred in Western Canada. My concern is about the acute toxic symptoms following an oil spill such as respiratory, ocular (eye), dermal (skin), gastrointestinal and neurological. And the long term effects including health complaints regarding immunological and endocrine, genotoxic, carcinogenic, hematologic, respiratory and mental health. We do know that the KM/TM pipeline transports a mixture of bitumen (tar) and solvents that allow easy travel through the lines. When dispersants are used to clean up an oil spills the combination of crude oil, bitumen, solvents and dispersants are highly toxic to human health. Not only does this exposure damage physical health, but mental health effects can be severe. I am not even mentioning wildlife and fish at this point.

  2. The greatest threat from Greenhouse gases and global warming is from Factory Farming which produce upwards of 35% of harmful gases while products related to vehicles are less than 10%….These are not small farms but huge corporations which pollute air and water…..Try eating less meat and dairy if you are serious about saving this planet and future generations….PS : You will probably notice an improvement in your own Health too!

  3. Canadians are the biggest chumps in the world and the world is laughing at us.
    We produce only 2% of the CO2 emissions in the world so what we do is insignificant.
    Our federal government is setting things up so it is almost impossible to get an energy project approved in Canada. We have seen several large energy and energy transportation products cancelled to appease so called environmental interests.
    In reality these well funded interests are American or American backed. They use huge amounts of foreign money to stir up Canada’s native people and they use every intervention they can in project approval hearings to delay proceedings. The real goal is to lock up Canada’s energy resources and keep them in the ground permanently. Meanwhile the US romps merrily ahead with its own massive energy projects and pipelines. We are fools to not only put up with this
    but to facilitate and even encourage it.
    Through this sham environmental BS the Americans are making sure we are sidelined while they sell their own oil and get rich. And the oil is being burned and the CO2 is being produced anyway. No money in our pockets in the end. Poor stupid Canadians!
    Canadians are being played for the fools we obviously are.

    • Patrick Flanagan on

      Just curious. How does the amount of American support for environmental interests compare with the amount of American support for promotion of the largely American-owned oil and gas industry, and for the industry’s mouthpiece, the Conservative Party?

    • Karen Insley on

      Your comment “Meanwhile the US romps merrily ahead with its own massive energy projects and pipelines” could add these caveats: Most of Canada’s oil is “romped” at huge discounts to the US; Natural gas – “romped” via pipelines with the same fate, (for ++++ years)? Wouldn’t Canada’s refineries already be at capacity for non-Canadian purposes, i.e., say Saudi Arabia shiploads in/refined out to elsewhere?
      Doesn’t Canada have raw resource abundance, so why is it politically incapable/stymied to add value for Canadians plus export? For Hydro? Perhaps understanding this in context with the age old “fake and foreign tampering” may assist! These modes of operandi are probably alive and thriving well here? Realizing Canadians’ ingenious spirit would work wonders in usurping that old Mnemonic “hewers of wood and drawers of water”?

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