Earlier this week, an independent study released by the SFU Centre for Public Policy Research, in collaboration with California-based consultancy the Goodman Group, found that Kinder Morgan has substantively over-stated the benefits of its proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion in its submission to the National Energy Board.
The report echoes past research from CRED which has found that BC’s provincial and municipal coffers will only get a tiny benefit from the Trans Mountain expansion. Instead, oil sands producers, Alberta and, of course, Kinder Morgan will be the main beneficiaries.
Municipal benefits from the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion
According to our research, Kinder Morgan’s stated tax benefits (which, as this report highlights, maybe also be overblown) would only fund a small fraction of provincial and municipal services – 0.3% of the costs of running the province’s schools, for example, or just 1% of the Coquitlam police department. Even the biggest municipal beneficiary, the City of Burnaby, could fund less than 9% of its Parks, Recreation and Cultural budget with tax revenues from the Trans Mountain Expansion. And this is a best case scenario, assuming no increased costs for servicing the pipeline right-of-way or any incidents to respond to.
BC provincial benefits from the Trans Mountain expansion
The SFU report also found that Kinder Morgan has significantly over-estimated the number of jobs the pipeline would create, and downplayed the cost of a major oil spill because the company failed to take into account the high population density of the Lower Mainland, underestimating the costs of a catastrophic oil spill by potentially billions of dollars.
Download the full report here, and read CRED’s reaction here.
How important are resource jobs to BC’s north?
After posting a report highlighting that only 1 in 100 BC jobs are in the mining, oil and gas sectors & that more people in our province work in the tech sector than in oil, gas, mining, forestry and utilities combined, we started having conversations about the tensions between different parts of our province – is information like this more relevant to Vancouver and the surrounding south coast than to the interior and north?
Outside of the urban and populous south coast, it’s often assumed that vastly different market forces are at play. We decided to examine the data and see if these assumptions matched up with reality.
In particular, we were interested to learn what regional job markets in the north of the province look like, which industries are growing & which are shrinking, and where future demand is expected to come from. What would the same jobs breakdown look like in Kitimat or Prince George – both places where primary resource industries have traditionally played a significant economic role? Is there a much higher reliance on extractive industries (oil, mining and gas) than in the south? The following summarizes our initial research:
Why does this conversation matter?
In order to decide whether energy development projects should go forward, it’s essential to have a good understanding of where the sector fits into the bigger economic picture. Of course we know that energy is important to Canada, but how important? In what ways? And is it more or less important than other sectors?
Where does our wealth come from?
It’s often said that British Columbia is a resource-based province. In actual fact, the reality is a lot more complex. While it’s true that much of BC was built on natural resources, and that even today sectors like technology and construction have a certain amount of inter-relationships with the resource sector, the basis of our economy has overwhelmingly shifted to service-based industries. More than 4/5 of us work in services and over 76% of our GDP comes from those sectors.
It’s also important to note that a significant part of our economy is based on small businesses. Small businesses make up 98% of all businesses here in BC, more than any other province.
Although economics can be complex and numbers can tell different stories depending on how they’re interpreted, some data speaks for itself. Here’s a chart breaking down the main sources of GDP in British Columbia:
Source: The 2012 British Columbia Economic Accounts, BC Stats
Oil, gas and support services make up just 3% of our GDP, compared to 15% for manufacturing and construction and over 23% for financial and real estate services. When secondary energy services are added into the equation, the total contribution to GDP is still only 11%. While this number is significant, it’s certainly not where most provincial economic activity is coming from.
Our first Credible Conversations forum was held May 29th in Vancouver. Over 100 business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians, First Nations representatives and BC residents came together to discuss the economic risks of pipeline expansion and explore how to build a more diversified economy on the west coast.
*These are rough notes from the break-out sessions and are not meant to convey the opinions of all CRED members, or even all participants in the break-out group.
What does cross-sectoral mean?
- Interdisciplinary, multifaceted, coming from different perspectives
- Inclusivity and diversity, bridge between cultures
- How sectors can work together
- Shared interests, big picture
- Directing forces and ideas
- Common / shared interests, collaboration
- Includes unions
How might a new oil pipeline affect the west coast’s economy?
- Increased reliance on foreign investment
- Risk of skills drain
- Free trade deals (contradictions)
- No local energy security plan
- Chevron jobs at risk?
- Climate change risks
- Costs of oil spills – insufficient insurance, tourism/cruise ships, attracting talent
- Kills innovation in alternative energies
- Impacts the region’s livability
- No long-term benefits locally
- Lower taxes, more funds for health care & education
- Jobs: construction, oil sands jobs
- Strength of Canadian economy – global position as resource leader
- Strengthen trade relationships with the US, China
- Increased global oil supply
- Pipelines are cheaper and safer than rail or road transportation
- Return on RRSPs / equity market will benefit
- What does a transition away from oil dependence look like as opposed to a crash?
- Where else could tax revenues come from? (Carbon tax?)
- More conversations on the oil economy vs the green economy
- Need to break through the spin
- Are people intimidated to speak up against real or perceived business interests?
On Tuesday February 26, CRED released a report highlighting the risks of Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline. In addition to pulling together the most important data about the project’s background, Kinder Morgan’s safety record, and potential impacts of a spill, our group uncovered some of the project’s main economic risks. Some of our key findings:
Jobs: The proposal would create 35 permanent jobs. And oil spill would put at risk industries that together employ over 200,000 people locally including tourism, film and TV, real estate, high tech, agriculture and coastal industries.
Tax revenues: The expansion would not make a significant contribution to provincial tax revenues.
Liability: In the case of a major spill, taxpayers would likely be responsible for the burden of costs, as a company’s liability is limited to $1.3 billion and a major spill could easily cost ten times this amount.
Some of CRED’s advisors highlight the most concerning elements of the report here:
Read or download the full report to learn more about the risks we uncovered.
Thanks to chilliwack360 for the image we used in the banner
CRED’s founders explain how they came together, why they have serious concerns about Kinder Morgan’s proposal, and how they hope to spark a new conversation about energy in BC: