The federal government might be about to break another promise. The clock is ticking down toward a December deadline for a Cabinet decision on Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline. During last year’s election campaign, the government promised to put Trans Mountain through a revamped review and restore public confidence in the energy project review process. But recent media reports suggest the federal government wants to approve Trans Mountain.
In addition to mounting rumours about approving Kinder Morgan’s pipeline, the federal government announced it would stick with the weak carbon reduction targets set by the previous government. This is not the climate leadership that was promised to Canadians. That’s why I’m asking you to tell the federal government to reject Trans Mountain.
Instead of redoing the review as promised, the government tried to slap a band-aid on the Trans Mountain process with its Interim Measures for Pipeline Reviews. But this won’t cut it. The review is widely seen as illegitimate, and British Columbians stand overwhelmingly against Kinder Morgan.
There’s a lot at stake with the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline. Texas-based Kinder Morgan wants to twin an existing 60-year-old pipeline transporting tar sands crude from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. The expansion would virtually triple the capacity of the pipeline from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day. That’s the equivalent of adding 2.7 million cars to our roads – an emissions increase that will be very hard to accommodate under Canada’s Paris commitment and Alberta’s oil sands emissions cap. It would also increase tanker traffic in the Vancouver Harbour seven-fold, from 60 tankers per year to 408.
British Columbians understandably have no faith in the tainted National Energy Board review process for Trans Mountain. There were conflict of interest concerns when a consultant who had filed evidence for Trans Mountain was appointed to the NEB. There are also concerns about limits on who could participate in the review process, unreasonably short timelines that compromised the quality of the review, and reduced participant funding for public interest groups and First Nations. The review is the subject of five legal challenges. The issues go so deep that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself promised to restart the review process for Trans Mountain from scratch.
The Prime Minister has insisted that “governments grant permits, but communities grant permission,” and he has talked repeatedly about projects needing to gain “social license.” Is his government ready now to stand behind those words?
A big test will come in December, when a decision must be made on the fate of the Trans Mountain pipeline. British Columbians overwhelmingly said they do not approve of this project. Will the federal government listen to them?