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

Just Posted

The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read