Trans Mountain pipeline project purchase ‘major step forward’: Rachel Notley

30 May, 2018, 05:36 | Author: Sherry Houston
  • Quebecers gathered to protest the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline in Montreal on Sunday

The federal Liberal government has no plans to drag Canada permanently into the pipeline business, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Tuesday as he unveiled a $4.5-billion plan to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline and its various assets to ensure a planned expansion is able to proceed.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she sees no immediate need to turn off the oil taps to British Columbia now that the federal government is taking over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

It does not intend to own the project for long.

"Had the federal government, at the first sign of B.C. intransigence - which was months ago now - had they gone to the Supreme Court of Canada for a reference to assert federal jurisdiction, the government wouldn't have to buy a pipeline and use taxpayers' money to do it".

What all this shows is the abject failure of Trudeau's and Notley's superficial and absurd belief that imposing a national carbon price on Canadians would give them the "social licence" to build the Trans Mountain pipeline, with the blessings of B.C.'s anti-oil government, Indigenous objectors and radical environmentalists.

"This is a great day for Canada, for our customers, for our employees", Kinder Morgan Canada CEO Steve Kean said on a morning conference call.

But before Tuesday's announcement, Ottawa has done little to advance the project. Besides Trans Mountain, it also owns crude-oil storage and rail terminals in Alberta, the Vancouver Wharves Terminal and the Cochin condensate pipeline system.

Access to new oil markets was also key to Canada meeting its Paris climate target because Alberta, the nation's singled largest pollution emitter, agreed to take action against carbon emissions, if it gained access to new markets for its oil.

Now, with Kinder Morgan threatening to scrap its $7.4-billion, Alberta-to-Burnaby pipeline, it's clear Trudeau was determined not to strike out completely. In return, the province would receive an equity or other stake in the pipeline, depending on the size of its investment.

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He added: "It will reassure investors that Canada is a country that respects the rule of law and gets big, important things done".

But it may mean the Pacific Coast province is now powerless to stop it.

Morneau said shovels will be in the ground during the current construction season. "We have a pipeline to build".

His Liberals face a hard balancing act in trying to champion climate action while supporting growth in Canada's oil sector. But British Columbia has refused to yield.

So why has our self-described "green" prime minister, who used to babble about "phasing out" the oilsands, ended up buying a pipeline to ship oilsands oil to B.C. and the world?

"He had an opportunity to walk away from pipeline politics and get on with the real work of leading Canada, and the world, in a 100 per cent renewable energy revolution, but instead he's opted to ignore science, Indigenous rights and the voices of people across Canada and bailed out a unsafe, unwanted pipeline with public money".

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Kinder Morgan will move forward with its original plan to twin the pipeline this summer while the sale is finalized, which likely won't happen until August. During protests in March, 172 people were arrested in one week.

Next, taxpayers are on the hook for the cost of twinning the project - an estimated $7.4 billion and climbing. The Export Development Bank of Canada will finance the plan and create a Crown corporation to run and manage the pipeline during Canada's ownership period.

Morneau says it is not the Government of Canada's intent to be a long-term owner of the pipeline and it will work with investors to transfer the project and related assets to a new owner to ensure the project operates in the public's interest.

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