Alberta’s environment minister says her government is willing to talk to Ottawa about a federal price on carbon of up to $50 a tonne if the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is approved.
“Kinder Morgan will ensure that we realize many of the economic benefits of economic access,” Shannon Phillips told Global News in an interview. “Of course more is better, but that is the one we have in the regulatory queue right now and that is the one project that we are looking to the federal government to resolve.”
The National Energy Board approved the pipeline expansion back in May, attaching 157 conditions. A final decision now rests with the federal government, and specifically cabinet. The deadline for that decision is Dec. 19.
“What it means is that the Alberta economy can then afford that additional price on carbon,” Phillips said.
Earlier this year, the Alberta government released its own carbon pricing plan. As of Jan. 1, carbon will be priced at $20 a tonne, rising to $30 a tonne a year later.
In early October, the prime minister announced a federal price on carbon set to reach $50 a tonne by 2021. His government controversially issued an ultimatum to provinces: either they find a way to get there or Ottawa will impose a solution.
“We’ve been very clear with the federal government that we require a pipeline approval in one direction or another in order to make it so that our economy can afford an increased carbon price beyond what we’ve set in 2018,” Phillips said.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the federal government dismissed the idea of trading Trans Mountain approval for a price on carbon.
“Our government knows that to get resources to tidewater we need to do so responsibly,” Caitlin Workman said. “That’s why all natural resource projects are assessed on their individual merits through an established process based on science, consultation with Canadians including indigenous communities, and using the best available facts.”
The Trans Mountain expansion would create a twinned pipeline to carry oil from Strathcona County in Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. The expansion would triple the pipeline’s capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.
The expansion has faced political opposition in B.C. from the provincial government and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, along with indigenous groups in the province. They are concerned about coastal oil spills and increased tanker traffic.
The project has an estimated cost of $6.8 billion.