Television news is a carefully curated selection of stories that go 24/7. When it comes to petroleum stories, to get a sense of what it’s like to be the analyst helping the reporter understand what’s going on in the markets, try holding your breath for 30 seconds – that’s the time limit for TV interviews. When I asked why this “time Rubicon” that must not be crossed, I was told that this is the attention, yawn, span for the average viewer, after which the remote gets fished out from the cushions to change channels.
Now try holding your breath for six minutes.
That was my challenge when I watched the mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, interviewed on BNN Bloomberg this week.
It quickly became obvious that the mayor exhibits a dominant trait, core to any politician’s existence, that is being a master at the art of verbal shadowboxing. That’s another way of saying just ignore the question.
In the mayor’s opinion – as a result of the last election, the B.C. government was given the clear and undeniable mandate to oppose the Trans Mountain pipeline. What is clear and undeniable to me is that the Liberals won 43 seats, the NDP 41, and the Greens 3. So the NDP government is relying on the training wheels of the Green Party to prevent a political face plant.
Mr. Robertson claims that his city is on track to be free of fossil fuels, and believes that the way of the future is renewables. Furthermore, Robertson says that the fossil fuel industry is not a massive job source, but only a small part of the national employment picture and its contribution to GDP.
This is when I used my “call a friend opt-out.”
So let me get this straight, this means that Vancouver is freeing itself of fossil fuels including coal, right?
Coal is B.C.’s number one export commodity and Vancouver – the single largest export point for coal in North America, at 36.8 million tonnes in 2017 beats Norfolk, Virginia, the largest in the U.S. at 31.5 million tonnes and all of Mexico at 16 million tonnes.
Now Vancouver’s U.S. neighbours in Washington and Oregon stopped shipping thermal coal, used for power generation in Asia, for the good of the environment, so thermal coal exports from Vancouver jumped from 4.4 million tonnes in 2008 to 11.3 million tonnes in 2017.
Now the good part.
The carbon content from the export of coal from Vancouver in 2017 was 99 million tonnes, while the total B.C. footprint was 64 million for a grand total of approximately 153 million tonnes. Expansion of the Trans Mountain would total between 130 to158 million tonnes over its lifetime, which begs the question:
If the Mayor of Vancouver and the B.C. Government are so pro-renewables and anti-fossil fuels, then why don’t they cease and desist the export and use of coal, shut down the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, and kick Kinder Morgan back to Texas?!
Then let’s try that TV interview again.
The once proud and true Rocky Mountains, the backbone of this country, have now become Canada’s Hadrian’s Wall of hypocrisy.
Roger McKnight is the Chief Petroleum Analyst with En-Pro International Inc.
Roger has over 25 years experience in the oil industry, and has held senior marketing management positions responsible for national and international accounts. He is the originator of the card lock concept of marketing on-road diesel that is now the predominant purchase method of diesel in Canada. Roger's knowledge of the oil industry in North America, and pricing structures has resulted in his expertise being sought as a commentator by local, national, and international media. Roger is a regular guest on radio and television programs, and he is quoted regularly in newspapers and magazines across Canada. All posts by Roger McKnight