Trudeau's Pipeline Approvals Get Praise From Big Oil, But Opponents Vow Fight Not Over

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Although it’s “disappointed” that the federal Liberals rejected the Northern Gateway pipelines project, Canada’s oil industry celebrated the approval of the Trans Mountain expansion and Line 3 pipelines Tuesday.

Opponents, however, said the decision will make it difficult for Canada to meet the emissions reductions it pledged as part of the Paris climate accord that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed earlier this year.

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Justin Trudeau announced the federal government's decisions on pipelines Tuesday. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

“Canada’s reputation as a place where projects can go ahead took a step forward today,” Tim Mcmillan, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), said.

Trudeau announced the government would reject Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline on Tuesday afternoon, while approving the company’s Line 3 pipeline to the U.S. midwest. Liberals also gave the green light to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, which will carry oil from Alberta to a port in the Vancouver area, for transport to Asia.

McMillan said most of the increase in oil demand in the coming years will be in China and India.

“Canada can and should play an increasingly important role being a supplier of choice for oil in these countries,” he told reporters on a conference call.

But climate groups and native leaders condemned the pipeline approvals and vowed the fight is not over.

The approvals "create herculean challenges for Canada as it seeks to meet its Paris climate commitments."
— Patrick DeRochie, Environmental Defence

Trudeau’s decision is “in part reason for celebration, but more so cause for concern,” said Patrick DeRochie, the climate and energy program director at Environmental Defence.

The approvals “create herculean challenges for Canada as it seeks to meet its Paris climate commitments,” DeRochie said in a statement, and they “facilitate production growth that approaches or exceeds the Alberta 100 megatonnes emission cap.

“Much bigger cuts in other emission sources must be made to compensate for more oil-based emissions, like making all buildings in Ontario emissions neutral.”

trudeau
Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Some indigenous leaders say Trudeau has a fight on his hands with the new pipeline approvals.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, of the Union of British Columbia Chiefs, says the Kinder Morgan project is unacceptable because of the environmental risk from a higher number of tanker ships.

According to Environmental Defence, the number of tankers in the Vancouver area will grow sevenfold once the Trans Mountain pipeline has been refitted to carry oil to the west coast.

Phillip said a few hours before Trudeau’s announcement that the battle against the project will ramp up in the courts and elsewhere.

Trudeau a ‘serial liar’

Derek Nepinak, head of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said governments and businesses must realize they cannot undertake projects in indigenous territory without full consent.

Phillip called Trudeau a “serial liar'' and accused him of breaking a promise to respect indigenous concerns.

“He's been absolutely consistent in reneging and breaking the promises he made to us,'' Phillip said.

“The struggle will simply intensify. It will become more litigious. It will become more political and the battle will continue.''

With a file from The Canadian Press

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