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Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion to proceed

The federal Canadian government said the project is shovel-ready and expansion work could begin later this summer.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
The government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offers support for plans to expands Kinder Morgan's westbound Trans Mountain oil pipeline, a source of deep controversy in the nation. File Photo by Heinz Ruckemann/UPI
The government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offers support for plans to expands Kinder Morgan's westbound Trans Mountain oil pipeline, a source of deep controversy in the nation. File Photo by Heinz Ruckemann/UPI | License Photo

May 29 (UPI) -- The federal Canadian government said Tuesday it reached an agreement that will see the expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline finally take place.

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr issued statements through Twitter announcing a guarantee that a consortium led by Kinder Morgan can start work on expanding the west-bound oil pipeline this summer.

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"We are able to pursue this project with confidence, because we know that we are upholding the trust Canadians have placed in us to both grow our economy and protect our environment," Mourneau stated.

Details of the support scheme were scarce as of 9:30 a.m. EDT, though the development followed last week's decision from the highest court in British Columbia to dismiss challenges filed by the City of Vancouver and aboriginal groups to Kinder Morgan's plans.

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Vancouver challenged the issue, saying the provincial government "acted unreasonably" in procedural issues on environmental measures associated with the pipeline's construction. The court, however, found "no lack of procedural fairness or absence of jurisdiction."

A Kinder Morgan-led consortium planned to expand the Trans Mountain network to the western coast of Canada, tripling its design capacity to 890,000 barrels per day. That expansion has sparked provincial concerns about tanker traffic and the potential for spills.

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Like the Keystone XL oil pipeline in the United States, the project has been the source of ire from the environmental community and political leaders in the Pacific Northwest. British Columbia Premier John Horgan said last month that federal support put private investor concerns about those of Canadian taxpayers.

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"The Trudeau government's reckless choice to compel Trans Mountain endangers the lives and welfare of its citizens," Ruth Breech, an advocate from Rainforest Action Network, told UPI.

Before Morneua's announcement, Alberta's government said it would help finance the project and later proposed legislation that could block exports of oil, natural gas or fuels to its western neighbor. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the Canadian economy needs access to foreign markets and without projects like Trans Mountain, the economy is out as much as $30 million (USD) per day.

In an April 18 financial statement, Kinder Morgan said judicial action by the provincial government in British Columbia was thwarting the timeline for Trans Mountain. The company set a May 31 deadline on clarity for the project.

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