Opinion: TMX buyout – putting the ‘wreck’ in “reckonciliation”

The federal government has taken the next step in its commitment to “offering Indigenous groups an opportunity to buy into the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.”

What an opportunity! History will likely record the TMX  ‘investment opportunity’ as  the disaster it inevitably will engender. 

The TMX ‘ownership share’ deal feels like a weighted bargain. It is likely that Canada’s plans to sell the Trans Mountain Pipeline as anything but unloading responsibilities of climate change and leaving the reality of drought, forest fires and climate extremes to the most marginalized peoples in Canada — Indigenous communities.

Remember, this is the pipeline that the federal government then bought for $4.5 billion dollars and has since poured a ridiculous $30.9 billion of taxpayer dollars into. With this outrageous cost overrun, project proponents are contemplating actually shipping oil at a discount because producers will simply be unwilling to pay the retail cost to use such an expensive pipeline. 

Crystal ball prediction? Expect this to be a new ‘pipeline’ shoveling subsidies to oil giants by you and me well into the future. 

Poised to operate at a loss, now the project is going to be an albatross around First Nations’ necks. 

The TMX project has more than quadrupled in cost, has scant buyers for the end product, and may have to offer subsidies on every payload they push through. This is the reality of the offer that is going to be put forward to First Nation communities. 

After all, who better than the population that has been steadfastly short-changed throughout history, to be the ones to take on an ‘all risk/no reward’ project? Having been chronically underfunded, robbed of their land and prevented from exercising Treaty rights, Indigenous groups in desperate need of revenues are at a crossroads and can be dividing within their own communities about how to proceed with this TMX offer.  

Writes Mark Lee in policynote.ca, “84 million tonnes (Mt) per year of CO2 emissions…at $200 per tonne, that’s $16.8 billion annually in future damages, meaning every year TMX is in service, it could deliver a blow roughly equivalent to the $17 billion in damages BC experienced in 2021 due to extreme weather.”  

This “deal” stands to blow us past our emissions reduction targets, assuring future generations of more hellscapes of fire, heat waves, rising sea levels, and the horrific community fallouts of climate change that already disproportionately impact Indigenous Peoples.

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