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Transmountain Pipeline Expansion Project a success?

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Chris Bloomer

 

The Transmountain Mountain Pipeline expansion project (TMEP) was completed on May 01, 2024. Its startup the following month ended an eleven-year saga of tectonic federal energy policy initiatives, climate change requirements, federal regulatory restructuring, and indigenous reconciliation. That it was finished at all is a triumph, but there was muted celebration.

The original proponent for TMEP was Kinder Morgan (KM), who filed its application with the federal energy regulator in 2013. The expansion would be constructed in the existing right of way of the existing pipeline and increase capacity from 300,000 barrels of oil and refined products to 890,000 barrels of oil per day. This included expansion of the existing dock and loading facilities. Protests began virtually the next day. The cost estimate at that time was $7.4 billion for the 1,150 km pipeline and related facilities. The federal regulator and the federal government approved the project in 2016.

Between 2016 and 2018, the intensity of the protests against TMEP and a new government formed in British Columbia that vowed it would use any means possible to make sure TMX would not be built created significant hurdles. KM warned that the protest’s impact and B.C.’s regulatory and legal challenges were creating significant uncertainty, and the project would be delayed at least a year, stopping all non-essential spending. Ultimately KM decided it would not continue with the project because of the increased execution risk and cost to complete the project that the legal and regulatory challenges, and increasing protests, posed.

The project’s shelving by KM led to the federal government acquiring all the Kinder Morgan assets, including TM for $4.7 billion in 2018. Construction then began in 2019.  The execution risks remained the same with the legal and regulatory challenges. They were compounded by a legal challenge to the substance of the federal government’s consultation with indigenous people, which was their constitutional duty. The courts agreed that the federal government had not met its constitutional duty to consult and ordered that it be redone. This led to further delays and in 2020 the cost estimate increased to $12.6 billion, then increased again to $21.4 billion in 2022. Ultimately, the federal regulator imposed 157 conditions on TMEP that it had to meet before it could operate.

COVID, extensive flooding and regulatory delays led to a further cost increase up to $30.9 billion in 2023. The final updated cost increased to $34 billion in 2024 due to labour costs, inflation, and materials delays.

The foregoing “Coles notes” version of events sets out the challenges endured by TMX as of Thursday, May 23, 2024. It also highlights that delays in a major project like TMEP have a massive impact on costs. But what gets lost in all this is that in 2013 KM, a public company, made a commercial decision to proceed with the project. There was and still is a huge market pull for the pipeline and the incremental oil volumes. There is huge economic and strategic value for Canada that will benefit all sectors of the economy and indigenous communities, who will most likely end with significant pipeline ownership.

Market access for Canada’s oil production in the Pacific markets will change the oil trading dynamics and value for Canadian production. Canada has the third largest oil reserves in the world. Canada is among the best in its class for environmental, safety, social and governance of its energy production. Canada is also among the best in pipeline construction and safety. So, who best to execute a monumental project like TMX?

We need to reflect and admire the skill, diligence, and perseverance of everyone involved with bringing to fruition TMX as a world class, state of the art major piece of energy infrastructure.

Yes, TMX is a success but the process through which it had to persevere was a failure and we should reflect and learn from it. In the end, despite the final cost, Canada will reap the economic benefits from TMX for decades because the world needs oil and Canada has lots of it.

Chris Bloomer is a board member of FCPP and the former president and CEO of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association. He has held senior executive positions in the energy industry in Canada and internationally.

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Automotive

‘Save Our Cars’ Is A Winning Campaign Message In An Age Of EV Mandates

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By KEVIN MOONEY

 

Automobile consumers who treasure the open roads during the summertime could upend the presidential campaign and U.S. Senate races in surprising places if public opposition to electric-vehicle mandates and other regulations continues to rise.

That is what some recent polls suggest and it certainly helps to explain why the Biden administration is poised to artificially reduce fuel prices by selling one million barrels of gasoline from an energy reserve in New England timed with the summer driving season and in anticipation of the November elections.

Since the East Coast consumed in excess of three million barrels a day of gasoline last June, it is not evident that having an additional one million barrels on the market will make an appreciable difference.

Moreover, there is an argument to be made that by tapping into the reserve Team Biden is leaving the region open to cyberattacks that would disrupt energy supplies. (Recall, that is precisely what happened throughout the southeast in 2021 when a ransomware attack hit the Colonial Pipeline.)

But even in the absence of any cyber drama, the cumulative effect of President Joe Biden’s anti-energy agenda is already registering with consumers who benefit from affordable, reliable energy. This is particularly true where conventional, gas-powered cars are concerned.

On holiday weekends, cars erase differences, bring families together and improve the quality of life. The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts almost 50 million people will travel 50 miles or more from their homes to celebrate Independence Day over the weekend of June 30 to July 4.

This would represent an increase of 3.7% from 2021 bringing travel volumes to where they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019. This increase will be particularly acute with AAA expecting 42 million Americans to hit the roads this coming Independence Day.

But what about those EV mandates?

President Biden and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a fellow Democrat, remain undeterred by the paucity of charging stations, the limited range of EV’s, their exorbitant costs, and the vulnerability of foreign supply chains leading back to China as they press ahead with new regulatory initiatives. Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency finalized a tailpipe emissions rule in March aimed at coercing automakers into selling more EVs while the California Air Resources Board is pressing ahead with a “zero emissions” rule the board approved last year to meet Newsom’s stated climate goals.

California is clearly working hand in glove with the Biden administration to achieve zero emissions goals for vehicles by 2035. This effort will most certainly limit consumer choice and raise costs.

Despite all the subsidies and regulatory schemes developed to favor EV’s, they represent only about 1% of the 290 million vehicles in the U.S. today. Meanwhile EV costs continue to soar.

Recent studies also show that EVs, on average, are more expensive to own and operate than their gas-powered counterparts. So how should consumers respond to the regulatory onslaught?

Enter the “Save Our Cars Coalition,” which includes 31 national and state organizations devoted to preserving the ability of consumers to select the vehicles most suitable to their needs.

Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, a coalition member that favors free market energy policies, views cars as an integral component of American life. The Biden-Newsom regulations amount to what Pyle describes as “an assault on American freedom.”

“In a nation as expansive as the United States, cars are not merely vehicles, they are integral to the American way of life,” Pyle says. “They play a pivotal role in our daily lives, especially in suburban and rural settings. This modern-day prohibition would outlaw a product and a value–in this case, gasoline-powered cars and trucks that have created personal mobility on an unprecedented scale – that it cannot persuade people to forego themselves.”

The coalition is perfectly positioned to make EV mandates a campaign issue in areas where the affordability of cars capable of traversing long distances without frequent stops is very much on the minds of voters. State officials who continue to double-down on California-type regulations will only serve to bolster the coalition’s arguments.

By contrast, states that break free from California’s emissions standards could become surprisingly competitive in the presidential race. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, recently announced that he would end California’s EV mandate in his state by the end of this year. Although Virginia hasn’t backed a Republican for president since George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004, polls show Biden and  Donald Trump are in a dead heat. The former, and perhaps future Republican president, is on record opposing Biden’s EV mandates.

By contrast, Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, a Democrat elected in 2017 and re-elected in 2021, is moving full speed ahead with a California-type mandate requiring all new car sales to be electric by 2035. Polls show Murphy’s Jersey constituents are not keen on the policy change. In fact, more than half of state residents say they are not inclined to buy an electric car even with the mandates.

New Jersey has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since George Bush Sr. won the state in 1988. But fresh polls show Biden leading Trump by just seven points in the Garden State. It is worth noting that New Jersey has a large block of unaffiliated voters that can be pliable in tight races such as the most recent gubernatorial campaign.

Murphy almost lost his re-election bid to Republican Jack Ciattarelli, a former assemblyman and businessman, who came within a few percentage points of pulling off an upset. Trump’s campaign rally in Wildwood, N.J., that attracted more than 100,000 people could also serve as a barometer for a potentially close election. A beach resort community, Wildwood is practically inaccessible without the kind of vehicles Biden and Newsom are attempting to ban.

The big prize though may be Pennsylvania where Trump is leading Biden in recent polls. There is also a competitive U.S. Senate race in that state between Sen. Robert Casey Jr., the Democratic incumbent, and Dave McCormick, the Republican challenger.

Polls show Casey is only ahead by six points. So far, Casey has been ducking and avoiding any questions about his position on EV mandates. With Trump already leading, and McCormick gaining in the Keystone State, anyone running on a platform of “Save Our Cars” could have a field day.

Kevin Mooney is the Senior Investigative Reporter at the Commonwealth Foundation’s free-market think tank and writes for several national publications. Twitter: @KevinMooneyDC

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Energy

Industry groups sue over Biden regulation requiring electric school buses, trucks

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From The Center Square

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A coalition of industry groups have filed a lawsuit challenging a Biden administration rule.

A dozen groups joined together to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for the Biden administration’s new rule, finalized earlier this year, which requires model 2027 trucks to meet strict emissions standards that critics say are meant to push out diesel and gas vehicles and to replace them with electric vehicles.

The EPA’s “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3” is the rule in question.

“The new standards will be applicable to HD vocational vehicles (such as delivery trucks, refuse haulers, public utility trucks, transit, shuttle, school buses, etc.) and tractors (such as day cabs and sleeper cabs on tractor-trailer trucks),” EPA said.

Critics argue the rules are so strict that the only option will be to go electric, part of a nationwide effort by the Biden administration to push Americans into electric vehicles. However, currently the electric grid could not handle a wholesale transition of to electric vehicles, posing a major infrastructure problem.

Notably, as The Center Square previously reported, a coalition of 19 states filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Tuesday to challenge a recent federal rule giving the federal government broad power over the electric grid.

“FERC has never been granted the authority to revamp the structure of state energy grids or force states and their ratepayers to subsidize large-scale transmission lines that don’t transport enough energy to justify the cost,” the states argue. “This encroachment upon state authority far exceeds FERC’s limited purview and damages the ability of states to regulate their electric grids efficiently, all in the name of advancing costly climate goals.”

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers is one of the groups that joined to protest the Biden EPA rule. They argue the EPA overstepped its authority and that it will spike costs for Americans.

“The Heavy Duty Vehicle (HDV) regulation finalized this spring aims to phase out trucks that run on American-made, American-grown diesel, biodiesel, renewable diesel and renewable natural gas,” Rich Moskowitz, AFPM General Counsel, said in a statement. “Americans will pay dearly because of it.”

Moskowitz said the federal government cannot enact such a drastic change without explicit direction from Congress.

“This policy will increase costs for consumers, dramatically strain the U.S. electric grid, contribute to more traffic and congestion on roads, undermine our energy independence, and impact every sector of the U.S. economy,” he said.

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