On Nov. 29, the federal government approved one British Columbia oil pipeline to the Pacific at Burnaby and rejected a second pipeline to the Pacific at Kitimat.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet approved 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 of the Kinder Morgan project in Ottawa on Nov. 29.
“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.”
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.
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.
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. Liberal 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.
While B.C. Premier Christy Clark didn’t release a statement after the announcement by the federal government on Nov. 29, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett and Environment Minster Mary Polak did release comments.
“As Minister of State for Rural Economic Development, today’s decisions by the federal government will impact rural communities along the proposed pipeline routes,” Barnett said from Victoria.
“It’s important to remember that B.C.’s five conditions still need to be met as outlined by my colleague Mary Polak, in the statement she issued today.”
Polak noted the federal government approved the Kinder Morgan Transmountain Project, while rejecting the Northern Gateway proposal.
“In anticipation of a federal decision, our government has been consistent in fighting for British Columbia with the five conditions for any new or expanded heavy-oil pipeline. That remains the case today, and we will work to ensure each of our conditions are met.
B.C.’s five conditions are:
• Successful completion of the environmental review process;
• World-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B.C.’s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines and shipments;
• World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines;
• Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed, and First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project; and
• B.C. receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.
With files from Jeff Nagel.