The proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion was given the green light by the Trudeau government on Tuesday, while a second project, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway, was officially spiked.
Neither decision is overly surprising.
Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain proposal will twin an existing pipeline that’s been in service for more than 60 years. The Enbridge project would have seen the construction of an entirely new line from Alberta to Kitimat on the B.C. coast, involving arguably higher sensitivities in terms of First Nations and environmental concerns.
Certainly, environmentalists are also vigorously opposed to the Kinder Morgan project, and vow to continue their efforts to prevent construction.
Clearly, they will not be assuaged by the words of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who, in making the announcement, said, “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 on evidence. We have not been and will not be swayed by political arguments, be they local, regional or national.”
He did not make those statements lightly. Indeed, the debate has been detailed and intense. The National Energy Board held lengthy hearings into the proposal and received thousands of submissions before approving the project, and imposing more than 150 conditions Kinder Morgan must meet.
It is true that expansion of the pipeline will increase tanker traffic in B.C. waters. The danger of an oil spill is limited, but does exist.
Blocking the Kinder Morgan pipeline will cost B.C. and the rest of the nation billions of dollars worth of lost jobs, economic benefits and tax revenue for government.
The fact remains that this country – this continent – remains dependent on fossil fuels. Limiting one source of supply will not change that.
And global warming will still remain the pressing issue it is.