Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau has approved the Kinder-Morgan trans-mountain pipeline. The only remaining obstacle is the resistance of the 1st Nations, a question that will be decided in Canadian courts. There is, however, a solution that will make a substantial reduction in tanker traffic, or even eliminate it while, at the same time, solving the problem for the Canadian oil producers.
The plan to enlarge the trans-mountain was the result of Obama’s catering to environmentalists by refusing to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The environmentalists claimed the XL might endanger their water. The Canadians had, until then, sold ninety five percent of the oil to the US. The Canadians, who were quite angry at what they considered a rebuff by our administration, decided they needed a different way to market their oil and a more reliable customer. Hence the Trans Mountain pipeline. Obama, apparently, then or since, has had no idea at all that disapproving the XL would generate an environmental threat many times more dangerous.
The situation which will develop will be tankers loaded with Alberta oil outbound through Boundary Pass and Haro Strait and tankers loaded with Alaskan oil inbound through Rosario Strait and Peapod Rocks to Anacortes or Cherry Point. If our incoming president would approve Keystone XL the Canadians might not need an enlarged trans mountain pipeline. The existing pipeline could supply Anacortes or Cherry Point reducing or perhaps eliminating outbound tanker traffic through Haro Strait and reducing inbound traffic from Valdez to Anacortes and Cherry Point. Alaskan oil from Valdez could be sold overseas.
That would require some serious and complicated negotiations at the business level, the state department level and very possibly some helpful legislation. But there are also some savings involved that might be appealing to the business side. Kinder-Morgan, owner of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, is already totting up the figures on various possibilities. In the end it might eliminate much of the tanker traffic through the Salish Sea. At the very least it would considerably reduce the tanker traffic and thus the environmental hazard while saving some money. In any case it would be a win-win solution.
Tackling this plan together with Canadian environmental organizations would be a huge step toward solving a serious environmental threat. They will need everyone’s support.