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Prime Minister: Rethink Kinder Morgan

Michael Jessen
By Michael Jessen
June 9th, 2017

(Author’s Note: The following letter has been emailed to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau)

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:

The May 31st edition of The Tyee contains a story about the report written by David Hughes, a former federal government energy researcher, disputing most – if not all – of the economic benefits of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

I urge you to read both the story and the report. It is not shameful to change one’s mind. In fact, it can be liberating. And I sincerely hope you will be able to change your mind regarding this pipeline project.

Things have changed since 2012 when you said “No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil and just leave it in the ground.”  (The latest oil sands industry update actually puts the number at 176.8 billion barrels.)

Please read “The End of Stationarity: Searching for the New Normal in the Age of Carbon Shock” by Mark Schapiro to discover the ever-growing economic costs of carbon emissions.

2017 is precisely the time that this tar sands resource must be left in the ground. As you stated when you announced your approval of the Kinder Morgan project, “We know the world is changing, and Canada must change with it. Climate change is real. It is here. And it cannot be wished or voted away.”

You have talked about jobs which can be provided by the Kinder Morgan project – “It will create 15,000 new, middle class jobs – the majority of them in the trades.”

But have you read the latest report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017)? IRENA estimates that renewable energy employed 9.8 million people around the world in 2016. The organization reports that jobs in the solar and wind sectors have more than doubled over the past four years.

“As the scales continue to tip in favour of renewables, we expect that the number of people working in the renewables sector could reach 24 million by 2030, more than offsetting fossil fuel job losses and becoming a major economic driver around the world,” IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin said.

Or a report from the Environmental Defense Fund that states jobs in the renewable energy sector are being created 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.

Or the U.S. Department of Energy report that found that solar energy employs more people than oil, coal and gas combined in the U.S.

You have stated that it is important for your government to take action on global warming.

I urge you to buy copies of “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming” and distribute them to all members of your caucus. This book edited by Paul Hawken highlights 100 actions your government can do today to combat the effects of our changing climate and move our country speedily to a post-carbon reality.

These actions are doable now and can have a tremendous impact on reducing carbon emissions quickly. Have your caucus read this book and then develop the policies to put these ideas into our everyday thinking and doing.

You have spoken about the need to build trust – mutual trust – in this country, and I urge you to do so by changing your mind and rejecting the Kinder Morgan pipeline twinning.

I have to trust that your government did not initially approve this pipeline to co-opt Alberta into accepting your carbon tax plan. The logic of a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend returning all monies to individuals is irrefutable.

I have to trust that your government is sincere about its commitment to the Paris Accord. If so, sanity tells us the Earth cannot absorb and does not need the additional 17 million tonnes of carbon that Environment and Climate Change Canada says the Kinder Morgan pipeline could coax out of Alberta’s tar sands.

Energy decisions must be guided by climate science.

I trust that after completing my reading suggestions you will agree that the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion is not needed and that there are far better ways to create jobs in communities across Canada while at the same time reducing our carbon emissions in accordance with our promise in Paris.

Yours truly,

Michael Jessen

Michael Jessen is an ecowriter who lives at Longbeach near Nelson, BC. He is an environmental and energy consultant and can be reached by email at

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