Trudeau Approves Trans Mountain, Line 3 Pipelines


By The Maritime Executive 2016-11-29 23:20:06

Canada has approved Kinder Morgan’s hotly contested plan to twin a pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific coast, setting up a battle with environmentalists who helped elect Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The Liberal government, seeking to balance demands from both greens and the energy industry, said allowing Kinder Morgan to build a second pipeline next to its existing Trans Mountain line will help ensure oil exports reach Asia and reduce reliance on the U.S. market.

The Trans Mountain pipeline runs from Alberta to British Columbia and its expansion will be bigger than Keystone XL, increasing Canadian tar sands through the pipeline from the current 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day. 

Environmental group Friends of the Earth say it would result in a sevenfold increase in the number of oil tankers in the Salish Sea and Puget Sound, from 120 oil tanker transits per year to 816 oil tanker transits per year or from one tanker a week to more than one per day.

“The pipeline alone would increase the risk of a 20,000 barrel or larger oil spill by 800 percent over the next 10 years which, if an oil spill occurs, could mean the extinction of the iconic Southern Resident orcas and the devastation of the entire food chain upon which the region, especially tribes, rely,” said the group in a statement.

Marcie Keever, Friends of the Earth’s oceans and vessels program director, said: “Shame on Prime Minister Trudeau and his ministers for siding with Big Oil and approving a pipeline which will likely bring about the extinction of the Northwest’s iconic killer whales and drive us further towards climate disruption.”

Kinder Morgan is planning to commence construction in September 2017, with an in-service date for the twinned pipeline expected in late 2019.

“This project has evolved substantially as a result of the scrutiny it has undergone and the input received from communities, Indigenous and Metis groups, and individuals. No voice has gone unheard, and we thank everyone who has helped make this Project better,” said Ian Anderson, president, Kinder Morgan Canada. 

“We have approval from the NEB with 157 Conditions that we’re committed to meeting. We’ve seen all levels of government coming together to address issues raised over the course of our review, including newly announced enhancements to Canada’s marine safety regime, provincial and federal climate change strategies, and deeper consultations with Aboriginal communities. 

“In today’s announcement the Federal Government commits to implementing the Recovery Plan for the Southern Resident Killer Whale and the establishment and funding for an Indigenous advisory and monitoring committee. Taken together, we’re confident we will build and operate this project in a way that respects the values and priorities of Canadians.”

Enbridge’s Northern Gateway

Trudeau said the government would block Enbridge from building its Northern Gateway pipeline from the oil sands to the Pacific Coast. He has long opposed the project, which would run through a rain forest.

Enbridge however will be allowed to replace the Canadian segments of its ageing Line 3 from Alberta to Wisconsin. The proposed upgrade had been less controversial than the Northern Gateway project.

"Our duty is to permit infrastructure so Canada's resources get to market in a more environmentally responsible way, creating jobs and a thriving economy," Trudeau told a news conference.

Canada's energy sector, hit hard by a two-year slump in oil prices, wants more pipelines to help ease bottlenecks in getting crude out of Alberta. Canada, home to the world's third-largest crude reserves, wants to diversify away from its reliance on the United States and into Asian markets.

After making the announcements Trudeau was scheduled to meet Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, a political ally, who says the province needs a new pipeline to help overcome supply bottlenecks.

Trudeau, keen to show environmentalists he is not selling out to the energy industry, also said the government would fulfill a promise to ban tanker traffic along the northern coast of British Columbia.

Earlier this month he said Ottawa would toughen its response to oil spills at sea, which some saw as a signal Trans Mountain would be approved.

The Liberals have taken other measures recently to shore up their green credentials, including speeding up plans to virtually eliminate coal-fired electricity, promising to bring in a minimum price on carbon emissions by 2018 and vowing to revamp the national energy regulator.

Canada's former Conservative government had approved Northern Gateway in 2014 but a federal court overturned the approval last June.