FACT CHECK: Extremists Claim Trans Mountain Pipeline Bad for Environment

CLAIM: Canada’s federal government approved the “twinning” of the Trans Mountain pipeline to support an efficient exporting of oil, leading environmental extremists to claim the decision demonstrates the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s hypocrisy because his government declared a climate emergency the day before. “This is like declaring war on cancer and then announcing a campaign to promote smoking,” the Rainforest Action Network said.



The Trans Mountain pipeline is desperately needed because the region must rely on oil trains due to pipeline capacity issues. Contrary to what activists claim, the Trans Mountain pipeline will reduce the need to rely on less safe oil trains that produce significantly more emissions than pipelines.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) concludes that pipelines “enable the safe movement of extraordinary quantities of energy products to industry and consumers, literally fueling our economy and way of life.” The PHMSA also says pipelines are “one of the safest and least costly ways to transport energy products.”

Prime Minister Trudeau said the project would allow Canada to expand its foreign markets – and not to increase the amount of mining in the country.

Further, the PHMSA says pipelines alleviate the need for other, less safe means of transportation:

“It would take a constant line of tanker trucks, about 750 per day, loading up and moving out every two minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to move the volume of even a modest pipeline. The railroad-equivalent of this single pipeline would be a train of 225, 28,000 gallon tank cars.”

In the United States, there are more than 2.6 million miles of pipelines that “safely deliver trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and hundreds of billions of tons/miles of liquid petroleum products each year,” according to the PHMSA.

In Canada, there are 522,000 miles of pipeline, according to Natural Resources Canada, which reports:

Pipelines are a safe, reliable and environmentally friendly way of transporting oil and gas. Spills, leaks and ruptures are rare, representing a tiny percentage of what is flowing through the pipelines. On average each year, 99.999 percent of the oil transported on federally regulated pipelines moves safely. Only very minor amounts of liquids are spilled and are typically confined to pipeline company property and recovered in cleanup operations.

Natural Resources Canada also notes that the oil and gas industry “directly and indirectly employs about 740,000 people. The oil and gas sector contributes nearly 11 percent of Canada’s GDP and pays on average more than $20 billion per year in taxes, royalties and fees to governments.”