Trudeau disappoints a generation, betrays rights and title of Indigenous people with Kinder Morgan decision

We issued the following news release today - reacting to the disappointing news that the federal cabinet has approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. Stay tuned for further analysis.

(Vancouver) Today’s federal government decision to approve the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline expansion while not unexpected is extremely short-sighted.

“By approving the Kinder Morgan pipeline, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has disappointed a generation and betrayed the rights and title of Indigenous people,” said Shannon Daub, Associate Director of the CCPA-BC Office and Co-Director of the Corporate Mapping Project. “The decision puts the fossil fuel industry’s interests ahead of the public’s and those of First Nations,” she added.

CCPA research clearly shows that pipeline expansion, including Kinder Morgan, is not necessary if Canada is going to meet our international climate commitments and make the transition off fossil fuels.

“This is a complete abrogation of leadership on climate change. The prime minister is on the wrong side of history,” said Marc Lee, CCPA-BC Senior Economist and Director of the Climate Justice Project.

David Hughes, a CCPA research associate and earth scientist, notes that existing pipeline and rail capacity is sufficient to allow for planned production growth in Western Canadian crude oil under Alberta’s oil sands emissions cap, which allows a 40 per cent increase in bitumen production over 2015 levels. The approval of Line 3 and the likely construction of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline under the Trump Administration will confer an 11% to 13% surplus of pipeline capacity over the NEB’s latest  production forecasts under the Alberta government’s oil sands emissions cap – even without TransMountain.

“Especially worrying is what this means for greenhouse gas emissions and Canada’s commitment to reductions under the Paris Agreement,” said Hughes. “Under Alberta’s oil sands emissions cap, emissions from the oil sands are already allowed to grow by 47 per cent over 2014 levels. Greenlighting major new pipeline projects will make it all but impossible for us to meet our climate commitments.”

He added that the rhetoric of the Alberta and federal governments that new ‘tidewater’ pipelines are needed to ‘get the resource to market’ and capture a price premium by exporting to Asian and European markets is not supported by the facts, given that existing U.S. markets are optimally equipped to refine Canadian heavy oil and offer premium prices.

Likewise the promise of significant new jobs are far fetched, says Lee.

“Any economic benefits would be small and temporary construction jobs,” he explained. “There are, however, huge economic risks from oil spills and to other sectors of the economy like fishing and tourism.”

“The prime minister spoke of the need for transition, but pipelines are not needed to fund the transition to clean energy sources,” Lee said.

Bill Carroll, co-Director of the Corporate Mapping Project and a University of Victoria sociologist, says: “Prime Minister Trudeau is right that transition requires investment, but not in the sense the prime minister intended. If we are to transition to a post-carbon economy it makes no sense to invest in new pipelines. What we need is investment in energy systems and technologies that create good, green jobs.”