Published: Wed, June 19, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Decision day: Fate of Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion to be decided

Decision day: Fate of Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion to be decided

Construction was paused in August after the Federal Court of Appeal struck down the government's approval of the project, citing the National Energy Board's failure to consider the marine impacts and inadequate First Nations consultation.

Construction on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is planned to start this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference.

Other Indigenous leaders have made similar statements since the Trudeau government chose to buy Trans Mountain.

Mr Trudeau's government had approved it in 2016, saying it was in the "national interest" to ease Canada's reliance on the U.S. market, boost local production and get a better price for its crude oil.

Government officials also said it's possible going forward that the project could be re-routed to accommodate issues raised by a First Nations community in Coldwater, B.C.

He questioned how the federal government can "declare a climate emergency and yet continue to invest in major expansions of fossil fuel infrastructure that will last 40-50 years?"

Responding to the federal government's decision to press ahead with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion Tuesday, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says the city will remain on the front lines in the fight against climate change.

"And the other thing is the money from the pipeline will be reinvested in clean energy".

While he is sympathetic to concerns about the environment and the need to transition to cleaner sources of energy, Trudeau said Canada needs to take advantage of its natural resources while they are still needed in order to fund that transition. "It is now up to (Minister of Environment George Heyman), I, and the government of British Columbia to make sure that as this project proceeds, we have no impacts on our marine life or natural environment and we do not put at risk one of the hottest economies in the country". Now, that declaration will help shape a renewed campaign against the pipeline.

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"This second approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline isn't a victory to celebrate. Now is not the time to recklessly pursue environmentally devastating projects while our territories suffer", Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said in a statement.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also scoffed at the idea the pipeline would ever be built, and cast doubts on Trudeau's sincerity about supporting the energy industry.

While Alberta Premier Jason Kenney expressed appreciation for the decision, he said what matters now is actually constructing it. "I want to reach out to the Prime Minister and the federal government to say, 'Count us in". George-Wilson said. "Unfortunately, this feels too familiar - Canada repeated numerous same mistakes from last time".

The project, which will include 980 kilometers (609 miles) of new pipeline designed primarily to carry heavy oils, has previously been opposed by the indigenous people of the First Nations communities in Canada.

Terry Lake, who was recently acclaimed as the local Liberal candidate in the October federal election, said he has always been a proponent of the pipeline.

Of course, many Canadians are skeptical about the sincerity of Trudeau's promises attached to the controversial pipeline project.

The expanded pipeline is expected to generate approximately $500-million in annual revenues.

Kamloops Chamber of Commerce president Joshua Knaak described the news as "terrific" for all of Western Canada and is confident the conditions imposed on the project will be met as the government owns the pipeline. They are now based near Blue River, where they are building tiny houses that they plan to place in the path of the pipeline expansion.

There are also eight new accommodations required to take into account Indigenous concerns, including working with some communities to potentially move the route.

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