Infrastructure will help exports reach Asia and reduce reliance on US but Justin Trudeau blocks Northern Gateway pipeline through rain forest
Canada has approved Kinder Morgan Incs 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 the 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 US market.
Pointing to efforts to impose a minimum price on carbon emissions and plans to phase out coal-fired electricity, Trudeau said his government had begun the shift towards an economy based on clean energy. But we also know that this transition requires investment and that this will not happen overnight, he added. Ive said many times that there isnt a country in the world that would find billions of barrels of oil and leave it in the ground while there is a market for it.
Trudeau also said the government would block Enbridge Inc 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 Canadas resources get to market in a more environmentally responsible way, creating jobs and a thriving economy, Trudeau told a news conference. We know that this decision is the right one for Canadians.
Canadas 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 worlds third-largest crude reserves, wants to diversify away from its reliance on the United States and into Asian markets.
Kinder Morgans C$6.8bn ($5.06bn) project would nearly triple capacity on the artery to 890,000 barrels a day.
Trudeau insisted that the governments approval was in line with the countrys commitment to the Paris climate agreement. More oil is going to be transported by rail if we dont build pipelines. That is less economic, and more dangerous for communities, and is higher in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than modern pipelines would be, he said.
After making the announcements Trudeau was scheduled to meet Albertas 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 fulfil 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.