James Kohut has over 10 years of experience working on pipelines as a pipeline surveyor, along with other oilfield work experiences going back to 1980. He was trained at SAIT in Petroleum Technology Geology. Kohut now works as a ground crop farmer at his own small, hobby farm located in B.C. along the mainline railway routes. He farms during the summer months and lives in Calgary for the rest of the year. Additionally, he volunteers as a shadow cabinet member for democratic advancement with the Green Party of Alberta.

With the recent developments made in Alberta for solid oil pellet technologies to transport tar sands oil more safely by rail, another oil pipeline through BC may be unnecessary and a waste of billions of dollars.

With the breakthrough in solid oil pellet technology, there is no federal constitutional legal basis for a new oil pipeline through B.C., contrary to what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggests. An alternative to pipelines exists, so the federal government should not be interfering with how oil is transported for the benefit of big bankers or foreign shareholders who are the top shareholders of some pipelines.

Solid oil pellets float when spilled into waters and they do not dissolve in contact with water. Oil pellets can be transported by rail without the dangerous hazards of diluted bitumen. Diluted bitumen, after the diluting solvent flashes off, is impossible to completely clean up in a spill because it sinks when in contact with suspended sediments or ocean microorganisms in any type of wave action. Furthermore, solid oil pellets are not explosive like diluted bitumen, which makes them safe for railway transport through communities like Lac Megantic or Calgary.

With new solid oil pellet technology, I believe it should be made illegal to transport diluted bitumen by rail in Canada for safety reasons.

Trudeau has suggested a blackmail bribe or threat where B.C. will not get spill protection programs without the Trans Mountain Loop Pipeline being built first. With solid oil pellet technology, there is no need for expensive, multi billion dollar spill protection programs to pick up the pellets. The currently employed low-cost technologies that pick up other floating materials, such as plastic balls, can be utilized in the event of a pellet spill.

Considering this information, I think a meeting needs to be arranged between the B.C. premier, the Alberta premier, scientists, environmentalists, economists, oil sands corporations, native peoples and railways to determine if moving solid oil pellets through B.C. is viable. We must talk to halt an escalating Western trade war over the pipeline issue, as it may inflict damage on the whole Canadian economy and increase the chances of a B.C. separation movement. Cool, intelligent heads from across Canada must speak up and present solutions.

The NDP Alberta government’s interest is to produce and move oil, in a safe manner that protects the environment of its neighbours. Our neighbours to the east and west do not agree with the new Alberta exports of oil by pipeline through their jurisdictions, as they recognize dangers and harms that Alberta does not. Alberta must recognize this fact and stop pouting like a little child and get innovative with alternative solutions to create more economic prosperity rather than economic warfare. The provincial government must seek alternatives to exporting oil in pipelines if it wants to get away from foolishly selling oil below world market prices to the highly discounted American market, while still being on friendly terms with all provinces within our dominion.

We need innovative politicians to embrace Alberta-made solutions to transport and add value to oil in a manner that will be accepted by our neighbours for the benefit of the Canadian economy, not the American economy. The American-owned Kinder Morgan pipeline will suck billions of dollars out of the Canadian economy if it is built, as profits will go south, similar to most of our cheap, below market value discounted tar sands oil. Made-in-Alberta solid oil pellet technology might just be better for the Canadian economy if all economic life cycle costs are considered.  Let’s consider this potential great Alberta advantage. Demand that your premier considers it; otherwise Alberta may lose a great window of opportunity.

 Editor: Whitney Cullingham | wcullingham@cjournal.ca