Canada approves contentious oil pipeline expansion, expects legal challenges

Clay Curtis
June 19, 2019

The government bought the pipeline previous year from Kinder Morgan, so it was widely expected to get approval for expansion.

Horgan said B.C. will examine future First Nations court challenges to the project and did not rule out joining them, saying they will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Finance Canada's projects the pipeline, once complete, could rake in $500 million worth of corporate taxes for federal coffers.

Last August, the Trudeau government purchased the pipeline for Can$4 from Kinder Morgan to salvage the troubled expansion project.

Construction on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is scheduled to resume this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference.

Coquitlam will be pushing hard to make sure it's compensated for costs associated with construction of the now approved Trans Mountain Pipeline through the city's industrial corridor, says Mayor Richard Stewart.

Trudeau said he's confident his government has addressed concerns about a lack of meaningful First Nations consultation, and impact on endangered killer whales, raised by the Federal Court of Appeal when it quashed approval for the pipeline in 2018. It would end at a terminal outside Vancouver, B.C., resulting in a seven-fold increase in the number of tankers in the shared waters between Canada and Washington state, the Salish Sea.

"We need markets for our resources so long as the world is still dependent on conventional resources", Trudeau said.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion was approved in 2016.

Trudeau's approval of the pipeline sends a message that "this is a government prepared to stay the course on the courses of action that it adopts", said Johnston.

Not only are scientists alarmed with the project but the pipeline would also cut through the sacred land of 40 indigenous communities, under the Fraser River and Brunette River, across British Columbia's pristine conservation areas to the Pacific coast.

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Trans Mountain, coupled with two Liberal energy bills now making their way through Parliament, have become the biggest flashpoint between the Liberals and their opponents, with Conservatives demanding the government do more to get the pipeline built and the NDP and Green party urging a full stop.

Speaking in favour of the project, BC Liberal Party leader Andrew Wilkinson said the pipeline decision "sends a clear message" to Horgan and the NDP "the time for obstruction is over".

"Conservatives have gotten pipelines built in the past and we will do it again", said Scheer.

Trudeau approved the Trans Mountain pipeline extension Tuesday for the second time since 2016 after the initial project was halted almost a year ago when the National Energy Board was ordered to reevaluate its review of the project after the Federal Court of Appeals found that the original study lacked adequate consultations with First Nations peoples.

Calling it a "great day for BC, and a great day for Canada", Wilkinson said now's the time for the Horgan government "to get out of the way" and support this project.

Earlier today, Trudeau appeared with several senior members of his cabinet to announce the decision.

On the other hand, environmental groups expressed disappointment. As it stands Canada will not reach its own carbon emission reduction target nor will it meet the 2030 Paris climate target.

The decision to approve the TMX project was widely anticipated, but it came just one day after the House of Commons passed a motion declaring the country is facing a climate emergency. Western Canada's oil production has expanded faster than pipeline capacity, causing a glut of crude to build up.

"This isn't a choice between producing more conventional energy, or less".

He said the Greens have ideas for additional ways to oppose Trans Mountain but will discuss them with the government to explore the ramifications first.

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