An already-twinned section of the Trans Mountain pipeline near Jasper.

Trudeau green lights Kinder Morgan pipeline, rejects Northern Gateway

One of two controversial oil pipelines across B.C. gets green light from federal government



The Trudeau government has approved one controversial B.C. oil pipeline to the Pacific and rejected the second.

The federal cabinet today agreed to accept Kinder Morgan’s proposal to twin the 63-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline to Burnaby, and rejected Enbridge’s Northern Gateway oil pipeline across northern B.C. to Kitimat.

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

RELATED: Oilpatch hails approval of Trans Mountain pipeline twinning, Line 3New pipeline review flags tough questions Ex-B.C. Premier urges ‘plan B’ route for pipeline

Trudeau said the decision complements the federal decision, supported by Alberta, to put a national price on carbon to help meet Canada’s international commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He also said more pipeline capacity is needed to keep oil from travelling by rail across the country, at greater risk to communities.

“We have made this decision because it is safe for B.C. and it is the right one for Canada.”

Kinder Morgan’s $6.8-billion project would result in a seven-fold increase in tankers running through Vancouver harbour, carrying much more diluted bitumen than in the past.

Trudeau noted it’s the twinning of an existing pipeline that has been in operation since 1953.

In contrast, Northern Gateway would have been an all-new pipeline.

It’s the final nail in the coffin for the Enbridge project, that was widely considered dead in the face of widespread opposition from northwestern B.C. First Nations as well as the B.C. government.

Trudeau said the Great Bear Rainforest is no place for a pipeline and the Douglas Channel is no place for oil tanker traffic.

Enbridge’s $7.9-billion proposal, which had been in the works since 2005, had been conditionally approved by the former Conservative government in 2014, but that green light was overturned by a federal court ruling that the new Liberal government had already decided not to appeal.

The court had found Ottawa failed to meaningfully consult affected First Nations along the 1,177-kilometre route before approving the project.

Trudeau said the Liberal government will also fulfill a campaign promise to legislate a moratorium on crude oil tanker shipments on B.C.’s north coast.

The Kinder Morgan approval sets the stage for a massive confrontation with environmentalists in B.C.

Protesters have already been staging rallies and making preparations for what some believe will be a huge battle, perhaps rivalling the ongoing violent standoff over a pipeline project in North Dakota.

The expansion would triple Trans Mountain capacity to 890,000 barrels per day and result in a seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic through Burrard Inlet to about 35 a month, which opponents say would greatly increase the risk of an impossible-to-clean spill of diluted bitumen.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said he’s “profoundly disappointed” with the decision, calling it a “big step backwards for Canada’s environment and economy.”

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she’s disappointed.

“I just think that the decision to approve the pipeline in the national interest could have equally been a decision to turn down the pipeline in the national interest and investing in green energy and clean energy jobs,” said Helps, who’s been a strong opponent of the expansion.

“It’s a significant increase in tankers going past the coast — very close to Dallas Road. With an increase in traffic, there is an increase in the potential for oil spills and that’s my greatest worry at this point.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, was concerned the pipeline approval was in trade for Alberta’s support for a national carbon tax.

“We were sold out,” Phillip said. “Trudeau supported (Alberta) Premier Rachel Notley’s agenda at the expense of B.C.’s environmental issues and values.”

He said the strong opposition to pipelines, amonng First Nations and others, won’t dissipate in the wake of the federal decison, adding opponents will block construction if necessary.

“The real battle begins tomorrow morning.”

Environmental groups aim to block any new pipeline to keep Alberta oil from being burned and contributing to climate change, and they were quick to slam the decision, calling it a “betrayal of promises.”

“Canadians — and especially British Columbians have said loud and clear that we don’t want this reckless pipeline coming anywhere near the Pacific coast,” Peter McCartney, Wilderness Committee climate campaigner, said in a statement. “To ignore the deeply held views of the vast majority of people who live on this coast is outrageous.”

McCartney said the tanker ban acknowledges that tankers pose an “enormous” threat to the coast. “If Justin Trudeau agrees that the Great Bear Rainforest is no place for a pipeline, he can’t possibly think that the Salish Sea is better.”

McCartney said more court cases against the projects are expected, and the decision is sure to be an issue in next spring’s provincial election.

REACTION FROM AROUND B.C.PM had ‘no social licence’ to approve Kinder Morgan expansionLangley reaction to pipeline expansion announcement mixedApproval frustrating: Kwantlen First Nation

The cabinet decision follows a ministerial panel review that earlier this fall flagged a series of unresolved questions over the project.

Those included whether the pipeline expansion can be reconciled with the Liberal government’s new climate change commitments, as well as aboriginal rights, particularly in light of Ottawa’s embrace of a UN declaration of indigenous rights.

That panel and other politicians have also urged Ottawa to consider forcing the pipeline’s new twin to bend south to a new terminal, at either Deltaport or Cherry Point in Washington State, to avert an increase in tankers through Burrard Inlet and minimize on-the-ground opposition in Burnaby.

The B.C. government has said the Trans Mountain proposal does not yet meet its five conditions for any new heavy oil pipeline.

Environment Minister Mary Polak said in a statement the province will continue to work to ensure those conditions are met.

She said Ottawa’s recent Oceans Protection Plan has gone further to address B.C.’s requirement for world-leading marine spill prevention and response.

Polak said the project has been under review for several months by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, which is soon to report.

“I have every confidence in B.C.’s environmental assessment process.”

Kinder Morgan aims to begin construction in September of 2017 and open the new pipeline in late 2019.

The company says the next steps following the federal approval include seeking all necessary permits, conducting a final cost estimate review with oil shippers who have signed onto the project, and a final investment decision by Kinder Morgan.

The Trudeau government also today approved the Line 3 pipeline upgrade by Enbridge from Alberta to Wisconsin. That $7.5-billion project will increase oil exports from 390,000 to 760,000 barrels per day and could be expanded further to 915,000 barrels.

– with files from Black Press.

NORTHERN GATEWAY INTERACTIVE TIMELINE

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Habitat for Humanity Victoria fundraiser builds momentum

$200K in 100 days fundraiser tops $50,000 in the first month

UPDATED: Traffic flowing normally after morning crash on Douglas Street

Traffic at the Douglas and Finlayson streets intersection was temporarily impacted

New development will pay homage to fallen World War One pilot

1015 Cook St. will become 28 market rental homes with mural

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

RCMP looking for missing teen in Comox Valley

Jenessa Shacter was last seen going for a walk in downtown Courtenay

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

Remembering Brent Carver: A legend of Broadway who kept his B.C. roots strong

Over the years, the Cranbrook thespian earned his place as one of Canada’s greatest actors

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Canada ‘profoundly concerned’ over China death sentence for citizen in drug case

Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms of the drug from Xu Weihong’s home

Cowichan RCMP use spike belts to end car chase — man in custody

The driver was arrested at the scene a short distance from his vehicle

Most Read