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Kinder Morgan, Line 3 pipelines approved by Trudeau cabinet

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau flanked by Fisheries Minister Dominique LeBlanc (left) and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna (right)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the Enbridge Line 3 replacement project and the death of the Northern Gateway pipeline project.

From the CBC (“Trudeau cabinet approves Trans Mountain, Line 3 pipelines, rejects Northern Gateway“):

The prime minister said production from Alberta’s oilsands is increasing, and current pipeline infrastructure will soon be at capacity.

“The decision we took today is the one that is in the best interests of Canada.”

“More oil is going to be transported by rail if we don’t build pipelines. That is less economic, and more dangerous for communities, and is higher in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than modern pipelines would be,” Trudeau said in  announcing his government’s support for the two major projects.

He said Canada is still a “climate leader,” and pointed to Alberta’s plan to cap greenhouse gas emissions from the oil patch at 100 megatonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions a year.

From the Globe and Mail (“Ottawa’s pipeline approvals give Alberta boost, but upset environmentalists“):

We made this decision today because we are convinced it is in the best interests of all Canadians,” he said. “We heard clearly from Canadians that they don’t want to see someone trying to make a choice between what’s good for the environment and what’s good for the economy. They need to go together.”

The two approved pipelines would create 23,000 jobs during construction, bring additional revenue to federal and provincial coffers, and bolster a battered oil industry in Western Canada, the Prime Minister said. …

The $6.8-billion Trans Mountain expansion poses a tough political challenge for Mr. Trudeau, who had promised during last year’s election to overhaul the environmental assessment process used to review it but then failed to do so. The Liberals won 17 seats in British Columbia in 2015 while taking only four in Alberta.

Opposition in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia to the project is fierce, as critics worry about spills from the pipeline, the substantial increase in tanker traffic in the harbour, and the rise in greenhouse-gas emissions from the oil sands. Two Vancouver-area Liberal MPs have publicly opposed the project, as do local mayors, Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson and Burnaby’s Derek Corrigan.

“I’m absolutely gobsmacked,” said David Suzuki, the prominent B.C.-based environmentalist who personally lobbied Mr. Trudeau against the project. Dr. Suzuki said the pipeline approvals – and oil sands expansion they will facilitate – represent a long-term commitment to bitumen production, and will make it impossible for Canada to meet its international climate-change commitments. Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May vowed to engage in civil disobedience to stop the project.

Northern Gateway

The Liberal government did put the kibosh on the Northern Gateway pipeline, which would have run from Bruderheim, Alta. to Kitimat, B.C. The westernmost reaches of the almost 1,200-kilometre pipeline would have passed through the Great Bear Rain Forest, one of Canada’s most pristine wilderness areas.

Trudeau said that forest was no place for a pipeline. He also said the government would enact a law banning oil tanker traffic off the northern coast of B.C.

 Trans Mountain

The Trans Mountain project will triple the amount of bitumen being shipped to port in Burnaby, B.C., a volume of about 890,000 barrels per day.

It will cost an estimated $6.8 billion to build the 1,150-km line.

From CBC:

If constructed, the expansion will lead to a marked increase in the number of tankers travelling through the area — from approximately five to 34 a month — prompting concerns diluted bitumen could be released into an ecologically sensitive area.

Trudeau said the government expects Kinder Morgan to “meet and exceed” the 157 conditions the NEB imposed on the project in April, including spill-mitigation plans. He also pointed to the a $1.5-billion ocean protection plan he announced earlier this month to improve responses to tanker and fuel spills in the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

“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 evidence. We have not been, and will not be swayed by political arguments, be they local, regional or national,” the prime minister told reporters. …

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency estimates that the new capacity will result in roughly 13.5 to 17 megatonnes of additional GHG emissions each year.

When fully operational, the pipeline will produce 20 to 26 megatonnes of emissions, the report concludes, although, it also suggests those numbers could be lower if oil prices hover below $60 a barrel, as growth in oilsands production could be curtailed.

One party not heard from on Tuesday was B.C. Premier Christy Clark. Her government faces an election in 2017 and the Kinder Morgan pipeline has the potential to be an extreme hot-button issue in it.

Construction is expected to begin in September 2017 and be completed sometime in late 2019 — if all goes well.

Line 3

This is the biggest line in length, running from Hardisty, Alta. to Superior, Wis., which sits on Lake Superior. The pipeline leaves Canada at Gretna, Man.

The National Energy Board placed 89 conditions on this line.

From CBC:

The $7.5-billion Line 3 project would nearly double the existing pipeline’s volume to 760,000 barrels a day. It would funnel oil into Enbridge’s crown jewel, the mainline system that collectively carries three million barrels a day into the U.S.

The existing line, constructed in the 1960s, has been a source of spills in the past, and the company has voluntarily dialled back capacity to address mounting maintenance issues while it pushes ahead with a replacement.


Tue, November 29 2016 » * Big Picture Stuff, Main Page