Canada PM approves controversial oil pipeline expansion

Several thousand pro pipeline protesters rallied at Stampede Park during the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary last

Several thousand pro pipeline protesters rallied at Stampede Park during the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary last

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's administration has given its thumbs up to the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion. His group seeks to buy a majority stake in Trans Mountain and Wapass said his organization will be reaching out to the government soon. Assuming work on the expansion resumes this year, the expanded pipeline could be in service in early 2022.

But much of the speech was devoted to an election-style listing of his government's economic accomplishments over the past three years - a federal election is expected in October. "It is high time that we move forward, collectively as Canadians, to build this infrastructure and get our natural resources to worldwide markets." said Iain Black, President and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.

But he's not hopeful, given the challenges the city has faced with delays and costs due to the Fortis gas pipeline replacement on Como Lake Avenue.

The one that succeeded was a federal appeal court challenge by First Nations and environmental groups, which successfully halted the project and required the federal government to go back to the drawing board on First Nations consultations and addressing marine impacts from oil tankers. Environmental Defence called the move "irresponsible" when Canada is not on track to meet its 2030 Paris targets, that it did not have the consent of most First Nations along the route and that it risks the already-threatened population of orcas along the West Coast. "So I think shoving a pipeline through somewhere that's as pristine as, it's the worst crap shoot you could ever take", he said.

"What the Greens and environmentalists and many Indigenous groups are saying is that the choice is between the expansion of oil production and the environment", Currie said.

The project will triple the capacity of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs from the Edmonton area to Burnaby, and increase tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet seven-fold.

But now Canadians are footing the bill for the expansion, thanks to the John Horgan government.

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Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee is an opponent of the project.

Meanwhile, B.C. has been responsibly issuing permits as they've been requested, he said.

But it could also come with serious ramifications for the Trudeau government's chances in B.C. during this fall's federal election, said Johnston.

It never got that clarity, so the company pulled the plug.

The Trudeau government announced it would finance the expansion itself, and then try to sell it.

The same day the pipeline was temporarily killed by the Federal Court of Appeal, Kinder Morgan's shareholders voted overwhelmingly to approve the multi-billion sale to the federal government.

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade welcomed the federal government approval.

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The NEB's report added another 16 recommendations on mitigating the impacts of increased marine shipping from the project, while the CCAR concluded the government had "addressed" the issues highlighted by the Federal Court of Appeal.

On the other hand, environmental groups expressed disappointment.

"It would sure help the proponents' optics if the prospect of First Nations investment in the pipeline is real", University of BC political science professor Richard Johnston told Business in Vancouver.

"Although I regret the federal government's decision, it's within their authority to make that decision".

The project still requires approvals from the National Energy Board (NEB) regulator, permits from municipal and provincial governments and finalization of its route. "We're into a kind of symbolic phase now as far as the B.C. government is concerned", he said.

"There's a lot of work to do". 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. "That may take some time".

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