Statement in the Senate: Safe Hydrocarbon Transportation in Canada

trainIn a statement delivered in the Senate yesterday, I recognized the recent, significant contribution made by the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources on the safe transportation of hydrocarbons.

In its report, Moving Energy Safely, the Senate committee provided practical recommendations to both the government and industry leaders. Many of the recommendations outlined in the report reflect the recent findings by the Canadian Transportation Board on how to improve the transportation of hydrocarbons.

To achieve our energy ambitions, we need a safe, reliable and responsible network for transporting our resources. The committee report has made a significant contribution to this goal.
You can listen to and read my statement below.

Honourable colleagues, today I rise to recognize the significant contribution made by the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment, and Natural Resources to the discussion of hydrocarbon transportation in Canada.
It is now for us as Senators to ensure that this important work is shared with Canadians.
I have received very positive feedback from constituents in Alberta on the accessibility and quality of this recent report.

I believe it is of fundamental importance that we create opportunities such as this to discuss energy in an objective and reasoned way. Improving energy literacy in Canada is a necessary first step to addressing our current energy challenges and opportunities. Now more than ever, we need to amplify the credible voices that can help inform the Canadian public.

The events that have taken place across North America in recent months illustrate the timeliness of the Senate’s study. The tragic loss of life in Lac-Megantic, as well as derailments in Gainsford, Alberta, Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, and Casselton, North Dakota have underlined the urgency.

These incidents show that more can be done, and that more must be done, to ensure the safe transportation of hydrocarbons.

Affordable and reliable energy forms the basis of our modern standard of living and the future of Canadians prosperity. Canada’s energy is Canada’s opportunity – an opportunity for jobs, for a stronger economy, and for improved environmental performance.

Canada’s oil production has now reached 2.5 million barrels per day, and it’s expected to reach 4.2 million by 2022. Already, the energy sector employs over half a million Canadians and generates about 25 per cent of the country’s export revenue – $112 billion in 2011. Capital investment in the oil sands alone is estimated to reach $218 billion over the next 25 years. Indeed, energy development is one of the main reasons that Canada has enjoyed economic stability during a period of global economic volatility.

The benefits of energy development roll across the country in the form of more jobs and more money in Canadians’ pockets, through royalties, taxes, contracts and investment. If we get things right, just the oil sands will create $444 billion in tax revenue for governments in Canada over the next 25 years. Over 70 per cent of this, or $322 billion, will go to the federal government.

As we know, there is a direct connection between being able to sell our energy at the highest price possible throughout the world, and maintaining the world-leading standard of living that Canadians have come to enjoy and expect.
So developing our resources and the infrastructure needed to link them with Canadian industries and world markets benefits every Canadian. I believe that expanding market access for our energy resources is the single most urgent and important economic challenge facing Alberta and Canada today. Simply put – to achieve our energy ambitions, we need a safe, reliable and responsible network to transport our resources.

The committee’s study on hydrocarbon transportation in Canada has made a significant contribution to this goal by providing policy recommendations to government and practical recommendations to industry. Relevant studies like this demonstrate to Canadians the value of the Senate to advance a practical, common sense public policy agenda.

The fact that the recommendations outlined in this report reflect the recent findings of the Canadian Transportation Safety Board as part of their investigation of the Lac-Megantic disaster speak to the wisdom and thoroughness of the Senate’s work.

I know that in Alberta, the mayors of both Calgary and Edmonton, cities through which major rail lines run, have voiced their support for the transportation safety board’s findings; in particular, the recommendation to review all dot-111 tank cars, a view that was first raised in the Senate report. The Railway Association of Canada has also supported the recommendations of the transportation safety board and committed to work to improve the safety of moving goods by rail.

I’m proud to be a Senator and a new member of the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. It is this quality of work that Canadians expect us to do.