Letter: TMX is a subsidy-sucking, toxic investment

B.C. residents in the sacrifice zones of the TMX (Trans Mountain Expansion) pipeline project know of its environmental risks - from a tank farm fire, pipeline rupture, oil tanker spills and orca deaths, to intensified global heating.
But the federal government's 2018 purchase of the pipeline has added an enormous new risk - to Canadian taxpayers.
The International Monetary Fund reportedly estimated Canada's subsidies to coal, oil and gas companies at a stunning $58 billion per year. Buying the TM pipeline alone cost taxpayers $4.4 billion, more than analysts said it was worth, with a further $9 to $12 billion for expanding its capacity, locking Canada further into planet-heating infrastructure, while creating far fewer permanent jobs than investment in renewable energy.
According to energy analysts like Robyn Allan and Andrew Nikiforuk, taxpayers may see more pain than gain from TMX. Self-servingly optimistic estimates of Asian demand for Canadian bitumen ignore escalating construction costs, the completion of two other competing pipelines by 2022, high transportation costs, and lower quality product.
Kinder Morgan walked away from a toxic investment for good reason, and no other private corporation stepped forward to buy it. A senior researcher (at an Alberta think tank) told me that TMX is a political symbol rather than a sensible investment. Serious climate action means ending fossil fuel subsidies (as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised in 2015) and instead investing directly in sustainable energy and infrastructure.
Will Canadians permit themselves to be saddled with an expensive stranded asset? Or can we unhitch our economic wagon from an untransparent, subsidy-sucking, job-exporting, environment-jeopardizing rogue industry?
With an election approaching, it's a real chance to stop TMX: Trudeau's misguided expenditure.

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Robert Hackett, Burnaby

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