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article imageTrudeau cabinet approves Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

By Karen Graham     Jun 18, 2019 in Politics
The federal Liberal government is giving the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion a second lease on life. The long-awaited approval of the controversial project comes more than two years after the cabinet last approved the project.
The Trudeau cabinet has agreed with the National Energy Board's conclusion that, while the pipeline has the potential to damage the environment and marine life, it's in the national interest and could contribute tens of billions of dollars to government coffers and create and sustain thousands of jobs, reports CBC Canada.
Besides committing to get the pipeline expansion completed, Trudeau also committed to directing "every single dollar the federal government earns from the pipeline" — estimated to be about $500 million a year in federal corporate tax revenue alone — to investments in unspecified clean energy projects, according to BNN Bloomberg.
And additionally, if and when the pipeline is sold, the federal government says the proceeds from the sale will be used to help in transitioning the country away from fossil fuels.
"We need to create wealth today so we can invest in the future. We need resources to invest in Canadians so they can take advantage of the opportunities generated by a rapidly changing economy, here at home and around the world," Trudeau said.
A senior government official told CBC News that there are still some permits and regulatory hurdles to take care of first, including talking with Indigenous groups who are interested in buying the project. However, the government still expects to start work on the project before the end of this year.
"There are six months left in 2019 and I think it's fair to say shovels will be in the ground in 2019," the official said. "Plans are being drafted up, regulators are ready to move forward."
It is hard to believe that it has been two years since the pipeline extension was first approved by the Liberal government. Through all the ups and downs, it finally came to the Federal Court of Appeal nullifying the approval last summer, citing inadequate Indigenous consultations and an incomplete environmental review process.
Controversy is still afoot
CBC News notes that the court's decision put the Trudeau cabinet in an awkward position, being both the owner of the $4.5 billion project -and the same government body responsible for granting the construction permits.
The Vancouver Sun cites the Rainforest Action Network as being the first group to react negatively to the announcement by Trudeau, releasing this statement: “What stunning hypocrisy for Prime Minister Trudeau to approve a massive tar sands oil pipeline the day after his government declared a climate emergency and reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris Agreement. This is like declaring war on cancer and then announcing a campaign to promote smoking. But this is far from a done deal. First Nations and Canadian environmentalists will continue to fight this project and their international allies will support them in whatever way they can.”
B.C. Premier John Horgan, who is against the pipeline expansion, spoke with Prime Minister Trudeau just minutes after the announcement today, according to CBC News. He says he's disappointed by the federal approval of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
But he also added that Ottawa has the authority to green-light the project and it is his job to make sure B.C. can protect its territory from the impact of a spill.
Last month, the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled against the provincial government's proposal for environmental legislation that would effectively stop the expansion project. B.C. officials say they are appealing the court's decision.
More about trans mountain, Trudeau Cabinet, BC Premier John Horgan, alberta oilpatch, Canadian Politics
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