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Trudeau says sensitive rain forest no place for an oil pipeline

New prime minister's stance in stark contrast to that of his predecessor, Stephen Harper.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Trudeau says sensitive rain forest no place for an oil pipeline
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands in opposition to oil pipeline planned through sensitive ecosystem in the west of the country. Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated his opposition to advancing with crude oil pipelines that have riled some members of the activist community.

Trudeau came to power in October, touting a green economic agenda that contrasted with his predecessor, Stephen Harper. In a November letter to lawmakers, Trudeau said "the clean jobs of tomorrow" would benefit the nation's middle class.

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Shortly after Trudeau came to power, the U.S. government denied a long-awaited permit to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta oil fields to refineries along the southern U.S. coast. Speaking to reporters in Vancouver, the prime minister said he stands in opposition to the planned Northern Gateway oil pipeline, which could run through a sensitive ecosystem in the region.

"I've been saying for years that the Great Bear Rainforest is no place for an oil pipeline," he was quoted by the Vancouver Observer as saying. "That continues to be my position."

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Canadian company Enbridge Energy aims to build the pipeline to the coast of British Columbia. The pipeline received conditional approval from the National Energy Board, the country's independent regulator, last year.

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Members of the aboriginal community and some eastern provincial leaders have expressed concern about the potential environmental threats from a pipeline designed to carry the heavier grade of crude oil in Canada. Dubbed oil sands, it's viewed by critics as more toxic than conventional oil.

The Harper administration had rallied around additional oil networks as a way to get oil to destinations outside the United States, the primary export target for Canadian oil. In contrast, Trudeau in a recent letter to Transport Minister Marc Garneau issued instructions to "formalize a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic" in western Canadian waters.

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