In a monumental decision, the federal government voted in favour of two major pipelines projects on Tuesday.
The controversial Kinder Morgan expansion proposal, as well as the Enbridge Line 3 have been approved, but Northern Gateway has been rejected.
The announcement was made from Ottawa by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“To Canadians, if I thought this project was unsafe for the B.C. coast, I would reject it,” says Trudeau. “We are convinced it is safe for B.C., and it’s the right one for Canada.”
He says the expansion gives hope to those working in Alberta.
The $6.8 billion-dollar Trans Mountain expansion will expand the existing 1,150-kilometre pipeline between Alberta and Burnaby.
The proposal was first put forward in 2013.
Earlier this year, the NEB recommended the government approve the proposed expansion subject to 157 conditions.
The proposal will involve 980 kilometres of new pipeline, 12 new pump stations, and 20 new tanks.
The new line will carry heavier oils, pumping close to 900,000 barrels a day.
This would almost triple its current capacity.
A recent poll by Insights West and Dogwood Initiative showed strong opposition from British Columbians to increased oil tanker traffic on the province’s south coast.
The poll also found that 62 per cent of those polled, agreed a Kinder Morgan approval would contradict Prime Minister Trudeau’s promises on climate leadership.
The federal government had until December 19 to make a decision on the fate of the Kinder Morgan expansion but opted to announce the fate of all three pipeline projects.
Enbridge Line 3
The proposed Line 3 will replace a decades-old line that runs between Hardisty, Alberta to Superior Wisconsin.
The $7.5 billion-dollar project will replace a total of 1,660 km of pipeline.
Once the pipeline is replaced, it will have the capacity to carry 760,000 barrels a day – approximately double of what it carries now.
Enbridge had its first meeting with the National Energy Board (NEB) on November 30, 2015 in Calgary.
The NEB recommended the approval of the Line 3 replacement but subject to 89 conditions.
Export will increase from 390,000 to 760,000 barrels a day, with the potential to expand to 915,000.
The Northern Gateway’s pipeline route would have run approximately 1,177 km from Bruderheim, Alberta, across B.C. to the port of Kitimat.
The $7.9 billion-dollar proposal would have carried an average of 525,000 barrels of oil per day westbound, and an average of 193,000 barrels of condensate per day eastbound.
The proposal had been in the making for more than a decade.
In June 2014, the government of Canada announced the approval of the project but made it subject to 209 conditions set out by a joint review panel.
But the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the federal government had failed in its duty to consult with aboriginal people after Ottawa approved the pipeline.
The company’s president said they would not be appealing the court’s decision and would instead continue with consultation.
Back in September, a survey by Insights West showed 50 per cent of British Columbians opposed Northern Gateway, while 35 per cent supported it.
The pipeline had faced strong opposition from environmental groups, as well as First Nations because it would pass through B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest.
A balancing act
Just hours before the decision came down, senior economist Marc Lee, with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives it was important for Trudeau to consider the political and legal ramifications of saying yes or no to any of the three major pipeline projects.
“It’s definitely a tough balancing act. I think there’s a lot of political risk in approving a pipeline through British Columbia, direct electoral risk playing into the next federal election. But just a bunch of legal risk of whether those pipelines would get built at all and the immense public opposition that it would stir.”
Lee said a best-case scenario would be if a Trump administration puts the Keystone XL pipeline back on the table, it would allow the feds to say no to both Kinder Morgan and Northern Gateway.
Premier Rachel Notley’s Statement
“To begin, I want to thank Prime Minister Trudeau and his government for approving these energy infrastructure projects, which are critically important to the economic future of the people of Alberta. Prime Minister Trudeau is showing some extraordinary leadership today. Our province has been brutally slammed by the collapse in commodity prices. It has been a long, dark night for the people of Alberta as a result. Today we are finally seeing some morning light.
We are getting a chance to break our landlock. We’re getting a chance to sell to China and other new markets at better prices. We’re getting a chance to reduce our dependence on one market, and therefore to be more economically independent. And we’re getting a chance to pick ourselves up and move forward again.
Of equal importance, we are building the economy within a strong new national environmental policy. We are getting out of coal by 2030. We are implementing an emissions cap in the oil sands. And we will all be phasing in a $50 carbon levy to help reduce emissions and to help finance a transition to a lower-carbon economy.
To all Canadians, I say this: We don’t have to choose between the environment and building the economy. Canada is going to be a global leader on climate change. And our country will still create jobs and greater economic equality.
To the people of Alberta, I say this: Albertans are used to being leaders, and that’s what we doing here today. We all knew our province had driven itself into a dead end. So Albertans decided it was time for a change. That included ending climate change denial, and that included working constructively with other Canadians instead of just shouting at them. As we’re showing here today, that’s how to actually get results.
And finally, to our neighbours in British Columbia, I say this: B.C. was an early leader on addressing climate change. The rest of us are now catching up to you. B.C. has always argued for strong measures to protect our coast and its waters. That is going to happen, and must happen. And B.C. has always played a key role in building our national economy, as Canada’s leader and gateway to the biggest market in the world – the Asia-Pacific. These B.C. priorities are now shaping all of our priorities.
We are putting in place a strong national climate-change policy. And we are getting on with creating jobs and economic equality, under the terms of that new policy. Which demonstrates, as clearly as it possibly can, that we don’t have to ask working families to choose between protecting the environment and having a decent chance to make a decent living. We can do both. We are doing both.
Let’s work together right across this country to protect our environment. And let’s work together – as we’re doing today – to show that there will be jobs and prosperity for Canadians in a greener future.