I appreciate John Hunter's desire to engage in the Kinder Morgan pipeline discussion (Tankers, Pipelines Already Provide 70% of B.C.'s Gas, Nov. 14), even though he describes my statement as "over simplistic and largely untrue." Perhaps I should say that his comments are misleading and beside the point.
Kinder Morgan's proposal for an additional pipeline needs to be viewed in the context of the emerging global warming crisis. We are now witnessing the more frequent drought and super storm consequences of just under one degree Celsius warming. To avoid catastrophic consequences, we need to keep the temperature increase below two degrees. If we continue burning fossil fuels as planned by the gas, oil and coal industries, the temperature increase will likely reach 2.5 degrees by 2060 and five degrees by 2100.
To avoid this fate and keep the temperature increase below two degrees, we can only burn 15 per cent of today's proven reserves of natural gas, oil, and coal. The other 85 per cent needs to stay in the ground. Since we can't burn it all, which of our available fossil fuels should we use? The smart answer is to burn only those fossil fuels with the lowest CO2 footprint. That way, we get the maximum energy output as we transition to green energy.
John Hunter suggests that the "slight differences" between oil sands bitumen and other crude oil is "generally small on a 'wells to wheels' basis." This so-called "slight difference" ranges from five per cent to 23 per cent compared to other crudes (ihs.com/images/Oil-Sands-Dialogue-Getting-the-Numbers-Right-2012_U.pdf). The higher emissions are for in situ extraction methods which are the fastest growing methods.
Every ton of coal we burn and every barrel of tar sands oil we produce, transport and consume reduces the amount of energy we can use without destroying our climate. Instead of using natural gas to steam the bitumen out of the tar sands, we should be burning the natural gas directly in our cars. Burning natural gas in our vehicles instead of gasoline would result in another 20 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions.
Mr. Hunter also writes of a long history of tanker transport of crude oil through Vancouver harbour. The Trans Mountain pipeline was built in 1952 to bring Alberta light crude to Vancouver area refineries and replace tanker transport of crude oil. Tankers in Vancouver harbour mostly transported less hazardous refined products to Vancouver Island and up the coast until Kinder Morgan took over in 2005 and started shipping the far more toxic bitumen through the harbour. The Trans Mountain Discussion Guide states "The proposed Trans Mountain Expansion Project will allow Canada to promote its resources on the oil market where oil commands world pricing." That means bitumen.
We shouldn't be building pipeline infrastructure which not only puts our waters at risk, but also commits us to burning our dirtiest fuels when we need to switch temporarily to our cleanest fossil fuels as we transition to the green economy. Producing, transporting and consuming tar sands oil is the worst possible path. It's like shooting drugs with dirty needles.
Jim Stephenson, North Vancouver