Canadian government won’t guarantee Trans Mountain pipeline decision before the federal election

At a clean energy announcement in Calgary last week, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said despite the deadline for the decision on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion pushed to June 18, he cannot guarantee that a decision would be made before October’s federal election.

I’m very confident that by June 18, Cabinet will be able to make a decision on this project” but “No, I cannot commit to that because it’s not my decision. It’s the decision of the Cabinet,” Minister Sohi said, adding “What I can commit to is that we will follow the process, we will continue to engage Indigenous communities in a meaningful two-way dialogue to ensure that our constitutional obligation is met.

The original May 22 deadline was pushed ahead to June 18 when the National Energy Board – which endorsed the pipeline expansion after a reconsideration of its affect on marine life off the British Columbia coast – said the government must complete further consultations. In February, the energy regulator said it will impose 156 conditions on the project if it is approved and made 16 new recommendations to the federal government.

The proposal to twin the existing Trans Mountain pipeline between Edmonton, Alberta and Burnaby, B.C. was first approved by Cabinet in 2016. The Federal Court of Appeal rescinded that decision in August 2018 because it said neither the environmental review nor the Indigenous consultations had been properly completed. The federal government then purchased the project from Kinder Morgan for CAD $4.5 billion and, earlier this year, the National Energy Board endorsed the pipeline expansion

“We have been engaging with Indigenous communities for the last several months and we have close to 60 individuals and eight teams that are actually in B.C. and Alberta engaging in a meaningful way,” Sohi said.

Minister Sohi said he’s looking forward to working with the incoming Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who will be sworn into government this week. “We have a shared goal of ensuring we are working hard on behalf of Albertans on a shared goal of continuing to grow the economy, to create jobs and to move forward in getting our resources to global markets,” he said.

The Minister was also dismissive regarding Premier Kenney’s plans to eliminate the carbon tax and lift the cap on Alberta oilsands emissions, saying, “Each province is expected to have their own climate change plan in place and the cap on emissions from oilsands development is part of that plan and we look forward to working with the new government to understand how they will continue to either support that plan or have a new plan,” and “We understand the amount of emissions that are generated in Alberta are significant.