Our View: How much is the bill for Trans Mountain?

Costs are going up for the massive oil pipeline project Ottawa plans to buy.

Kinder Morgan has just upped the bill that will likely fall to Canadian taxpayers.

With the federal government agreeing to take over the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan, Canadians were going to pay for the cost of not only the purchase, but the construction as well.

The purchase price was $4.5 billion, the construction cost has now ballooned from $7.4 billion to $9.3 billion.

The new information filed by Kinder Morgan also pushes back the date of completion by a full year, to 2021.

The sale isn’t finalized – yet – but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government hasn’t given itself much room to back out.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the project was “in the national interest.” It’s meant to keep Canada’s natural resource economy ticking along, particularly the economy of Alberta, hit by the decline in the price of oil some years back.

The first stages of the controversy over the pipeline have been primarily about environmental issues and Indigenous land rights. Though some First Nations have agreed to allow the pipeline to go through, others have been protesting, marching, and rallying.

But the underlying question, once Canada took it over, is will the deal actually be in the national interest?

At what point does the price rise too high? How long will it take to pay back an investment of this size? Given the volatile price of oil and the uncertain future of fossil fuels as a power source, the longer the payback period, the worse this deal looks for Canadians.

– M.C.

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