Ottawa approves Trans Mountain pipeline, Line 3, but turns down Northern Gateway

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson calls the Kinder Morgan approval "a big step backwards for Canada's environment and economy"

Credit: Jason Woodhead/Flickr

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson calls the Kinder Morgan approval "a big step backwards for Canada’s environment and economy."

The federal government has approved two major crude oil pipelines, including the controversial expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain line to Vancouver. The $6.8-billion project will nearly triple the capacity of an existing pipeline, moving a mix of oil products from Edmonton to a terminal in Burnaby, B.C., where they will be exported to markets in Asia. If constructed, the expansion will lead to a marked increase in the number of tankers travelling through Burrard Inlet.

Line 3, the largest pipeline project in energy distributor Enbridge Inc.’s history, will now move ahead after Tuesday’s decision. It has attracted considerably less attention, with fewer activists setting their sights on stopping the 1,659-kilometre project, which will carry oil from a terminal near Hardisty, Alberta, through northern Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin.

In a largely expected move, cabinet killed the Enbridge-backed Northern Gateway, a proposed 1,177-kilometre pipeline that would have carried oil from Bruderheim, Alberta, through the Great Bear Rainforest to an export terminal in Kitimat, B.C. (CBC)

Mayor Gregor Robertson, an outspoken critic of the Kinder Morgan expansion, released the following statement:

I am profoundly disappointed with today’s decision. Vancouver’s work with the federal government on transit, housing, welcoming refugees and other shared priorities has been overwhelmingly positive, but approving Kinder Morgan’s heavy oil pipeline expansion is a big step backwards for Canada’s environment and economy. This project was approved under a flawed and biased Harper-era regulatory process that shut out local voices and ignored climate change and First Nations concerns.

The federal government’s decision on Kinder Morgan is a missed opportunity for Canada, as there’s never been a better time to aggressively shift to a clean energy future. Vancouver’s economy is the strongest and greenest in Canada and our marine-based industries play a big role in our success. Vancouver’s economy created 94,000 new jobs last year and significant tax revenue for Canada – it doesn’t make sense to jeopardize that success with the risk that comes with an expanded Kinder Morgan heavy oil pipeline and more tankers. As I’ve said repeatedly, it is not worth the risk.

The Gitga’at First Nation of Hartley Bay, B.C., released the following statement:

The Gitga’at First Nation is celebrating the federal government’s decision today not to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and to enact a moratorium on crude oil tankers on the North Coast of BC. The decision ends a more than decade-long struggle that pitted the Gitga’at and their allies against the energy giant in a David vs. Goliath battle that was waged in courtrooms, and in living rooms, for the hearts and minds of Canadians. 

“This is a final victory for the Gitga’at, our allies and all Canadians,” said Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga’at First Nation. “Defending our way of life and the Great Bear Rainforest from the danger of oil spills has been exhausting work, and yet it’s a fight we would take up tomorrow in a heartbeat. We look forward to putting Enbridge behind us and sitting down with government to begin implementing an oil tanker ban on the North Coast of B.C.”

The Sierra Club BC released the following statement:

Sierra Club BC welcomes today’s historic decision by the federal government to put an end, finally, to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers proposal. We also applaud the imposition of a legislated tanker ban on the north coast, although the details remain crucial to its effectiveness.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the decision to approve Enbridge’s Line 3 and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipelines. B.C. will not be a sacrifice zone for the Prime Minister’s incoherent climate and energy policy and Alberta’s deluded demands for tidewater access.