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Trudeau cabinet rejects Northern Gateway!

November 29, 2016

CBC NEWS - Trudeau cabinet approves Trans Mountain, Line 3 pipelines, rejects Northern Gateway

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet colleagues signed off on two major pipelines today, projects that will pump nearly a million more barrels of oil a day from Alberta's oilsands to global markets, if they are constructed.

Ottawa gave the green light to Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline and Enbridge's Line 3, while it rejected Northern Gateway.

The prime minister said production from Alberta's oilsands is increasing, and current pipeline infrastructure will soon be at capacity.

"The decision we took today is the one that is in the best interests of Canada," Trudeau said in announcing his government's support for the two major projects. "It is a major win for Canadian workers, for Canadian families and the Canadian economy, now and into the future."

He said Canada is still a "climate leader," and pointed to Alberta's plan to cap greenhouse gas emissions from the oil patch at 100 megatonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions a year.

Trudeau said that if these projects aren't built, diluted bitumen would be forced into more rail tanker cars for transport.

"That is less economic, and more dangerous for communities, and is higher in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than modern pipelines would be."

The government has been laying the groundwork for approving a major pipeline, courting green-conscious voters with plans to impose a national price on carbon, phase out coal-powered plants by 2030 and overhaul the National Energy Board, the country's regulator.

Today, Trudeau also announced that the government would ban crude oil tankers along B.C.'s North Coast, promising legislation in the new year to implement a moratorium.

Trans Mountain

The controversial Trans Mountain expansion project will nearly triple the capacity of an existing pipeline to 890,000 barrels a day.

This $6.8-billion, 1,150-kilometre twinned pipeline will move a mix of oil products from Edmonton to a terminal in Burnaby, B.C., near Vancouver, where it will be exported to markets in Asia. Some of the product is also destined for Chevron's Vancouver-area refinery.

If constructed, the expansion will lead to a marked increase in the number of tankers travelling through the area — from approximately five to 34 a month — prompting concerns diluted bitumen could be released into an ecologically sensitive area.

Trudeau said the government expects Kinder Morgan to "meet and exceed" the 157 conditions the NEB imposed on the project in April, including spill-mitigation plans. He also pointed to the a $1.5-billion ocean protection plan he announced earlier this month to improve responses to tanker and fuel spills in the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

"If I thought this project was unsafe for the B.C. coast, I would reject it. This is a decision based on rigorous debate on science and evidence. We have not been, and will not be swayed by political arguments, be they local, regional or national," the prime minister told reporters.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr appointed a ministerial panel to review Trans Mountain in June — a process separate from the NEB — and commissioned Environment Canada to study the project's upstream GHG emissions.

First Nation says pipeline threatens 'survival'

Activists have been lining up to oppose the project, with one B.C. First Nation near the project's route warning its construction could threaten the community's very "survival," and it has not ruled out protests and court action.

Other First Nations, including 39 in B.C. and Alberta, have signed "mutual benefit agreements" with the project's proponent, U.S.-based Kinder Morgan. Those deals will deliver money and jobs to First Nations communities. The company also told CBC News in a statement that it has reached agreements with all First Nations communities where the project crosses a reserve.

Trudeau said he doesn't expect all Canadians to agree with the decision, and indeed environmentalists were quick to denounce the approvals.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said she would be "willing to go to jail" to stop Trans Mountain's construction.

"Apparently Justin Trudeau's sunny ways mean dark days ahead for climate action and Indigenous reconciliation in Canada. With this announcement, Prime Minister Trudeau has broken his climate commitments, broken his commitments to Indigenous rights, and has declared war on B.C.," Mike Hudema, a campaigner for Greenpeace, added in a statement.

"If Prime Minister Trudeau wanted to bring Standing Rock-like protests to Canada, he succeeded."

Trudeau kills Northern Gateway

In a largely expected move, cabinet killed the Enbridge-backed Northern Gateway, a proposed 1,177-kilometre pipeline that would have carried oil from Bruderheim, Alta., to an export terminal in Kitimat, B.C.

"It has become clear that this project is not in the best interest of the local affected communities, including Indigenous Peoples," Trudeau said, describing the local area as the "jewel" of B.C.

"The Great Bear Rainforest is no place for a pipeline and the Douglas Channel is no place for oil tanker traffic."

The Federal Court had previously overturned the Harper government's approval of the $7.9-billion project, as it found Ottawa had not adequately consulted First Nations along the project's route. Trudeau opted Tuesday not to pursue further consultations.

Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose said she was disappointed to see the government take the project off the table and "kill 4,000 jobs," suggesting the terminal could have been moved farther north toward Prince Rupert.

"Today, what we saw was one project be rejected, and another project, sadly, be approved but with very little chance of being built," she said.

"Approval [of Trans Mountain] is just the beginning, but now he needs to use his political capital to see this project get built, and I don't think he has enough of it."