Trudeau cabinet approves Trans Mountain, Line 3 pipelines, rejects Northern Gateway

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet colleagues signed off on two major pipelines today, projects that will pump nearly a million more barrels of oil a day from Alberta’s oilsands to global markets, if they are constructed.

Ottawa gave the green light to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and Enbridge’s Line 3, while it rejected Northern Gateway.

The prime minister said production from Alberta’s oilsands is increasing, and current pipeline infrastructure will soon be at capacity.

“The decision we took today is the one that is in the best interests of Canada.”

“More oil is going to be transported by rail if we don’t build pipelines. That is less economic, and more dangerous for communities, and is higher in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than modern pipelines would be,” Trudeau said in  announcing his government’s support for the two major projects.

He said Canada is still a “climate leader,” and pointed to Alberta’s plan to cap greenhouse gas emissions from the oil patch at 100 megatonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions a year.

Opposition leaders Rona Ambrose and Tom Mulcair are expected to respond after 5:30 p.m. ET. is carrying their reaction live.

The government has been laying the groundwork for approving a major pipeline, courting green-conscious voters with plans to impose a national price on carbonphase out coal-powered plants by 2030 and overhaul the National Energy Board, the country’s regulator.

Today, Trudeau also announced that the government would ban crude oil tankers along B.C.’s North Coast, promising legislation in the new year to implement a moratorium.

Later, Trudeau will meet privately with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. Notley is expected to speak with reporters on Parliament Hill at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Trans Mountain

The controversial Trans Mountain expansion project will nearly triple the capacity of an existing pipeline to 890,000 barrels a day.

Trudeau Pipeline 20161129

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Tuesday to announce his government is approving Kinder Morgan’s proposal to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. — a $6.8-billion project that has sparked protests by climate change activists. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

“If I thought this project was unsafe for the B.C. coast, I would reject it. This is a decision based on rigorous debate on science and evidence. We have not been, and will not be swayed by political arguments, be they local, regional or national,” the prime minister told reporters.

“We have made this decision, we are convinced that it is safe for B.C., and it is the right one for Canada. It is a major win for Canadian workers, for Canadian families and the Canadian economy, now and into the future.”

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency estimates that the new capacity will result in roughly 13.5 to 17 megatonnes of additional upstream greenhouse gas emissions each year.

When fully operational, the pipeline will produce 20 to 26 megatonnes of emissions, the report concludes, although, it also suggests those numbers could be lower if oil prices hover below $60 a barrel, as growth in oilsands production could be curtailed.

Activists have been lining up to oppose the project, with one B.C. First Nation near the project’s route warning its construction could threaten the community’s very “survival,” and it has not ruled out Standing Rock-like protests and court action.

Other First Nations, including 39 in B.C. and Alberta, have signed “mutual benefit agreements” with the project’s proponent, U.S.-based Kinder Morgan. Those deals will deliver money and jobs to First Nations communities. The company also told CBC News in a statement that it has reached agreements with all First Nations communities where the project crosses a reserve.

“Apparently Justin Trudeau’s sunny ways mean dark days ahead for climate action and Indigenous reconciliation in Canada. With this announcement, Prime Minister Trudeau has broken his climate commitments, broken his commitments to Indigenous rights, and has declared war on B.C.,” Mike Hudema, a campaigner for Greenpeace, said in a statement.

“If Prime Minister Trudeau wanted to bring Standing Rock-like protests to Canada, he succeeded.”

Kinder Morgan forecasts the expansion will create 15,000 jobs a year during construction, and a further 37,000 direct and indirect jobs for every year of operation. It also estimates expanded operations will deliver an additional $46.7 billion in government revenues for all levels of government in the first 20 years. The bulk of that money, $19.4 billion, would flow to Alberta.  

Trans Mountain

Kinder Morgan’s $6.8-billion, 1,150-kilometre Trans Mountain pipeline will move a mix of oil products from Edmonton to a terminal in Burnaby, B.C., near Vancouver, where it will be exported to markets in Asia. (CBC News)

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