B.C.’s Premier says he is not happy with the federal government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project for the second time, but asserted he is not giving up the fight to protect the province’s coast.
John Horgan says he spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this morning about the project and says he is “disappointed” with the move to re-approve the twinning project which would triple the amount of diluted bitumen flowing between Alberta and Burnaby.
“Although a regret the federal government’s decision, it is within their authority to make that decision,” Horgan said. “It is now up to (Minister of Environment George Heyman), I, and the government of British Columbia to make sure that as this project proceeds, we have no impacts on our marine life or natural environment and we do not put at risk one of the hottest economies in the country.
The province has appealed to the Supreme Court after the B.C. Court of Appeal found the province’s proposed law to give itself control over heavy oil flowing within its borders, was unconstitutional.
“This is not just about this project. It’s about protecting provincial jurisdiction and ensuring that the government of British Columbia can do everything in its power to protect those things that are so important to British Columbians.”
Though not happy with decision, @jjhorgan says the province is still giving permits as requested. Focus: Protecting BC's interest while NOT obstructing work.
Opposition, he says, isn't about this project but about the province's coast like and the future of it.#bcpoli #cdnpoli
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) June 18, 2019
The province said the cost of fighting the ruling would be a fraction of the cost of a potential diluted bitumen spill.
“The TMX project poses a very significant risk to our environment, our coast and our economy and we continue to assert that there are potentially catastrophic consequences of a diluted bitumen spill,” Heyman said. “We will not abandon our responsibility to protect our land and our water.”
Several B.C. Indigenous communities oppose pipeline
Indigenous leaders from several B.C. communities voiced their opposition to the decision at a joint news conference in Vancouver. The group vowed that the pipeline will never be built.
“The federal government’s decision to buy the pipeline and become the owner makes it impossible to make an unbiased, open minded decision,” Tsleil-Waututh First Nation Chief Leah George-Wilson said. “We will be appealing this decision to the Federal Court of Appeal.”
“Tsleil-Waututh again engaged in consultation in good faith, but it was clear that the federal government had already made up their mind as the owners of the project.” George-Wilson said. “Unfortunately, this feels too familiar — Canada repeated many of the same mistakes from last time.”
Tsleil-Waututh says its concerns include the risks and impacts of oil spills, the impacts on orcas, collapsed project economics, and the risks to Aboriginal rights and title.
Tsleil-Waututh First Nation Chief Leah George-Wilson says today’s decision will be appealed in federal court. She claims #Trudeau government is in conflict of interest. #TMXpipeline #cdnpoli @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/D4ERh6AIyG
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) June 18, 2019
Liberals, Greens have opposing reactions to pipeline approval
B.C. Liberal Leader and official opposition Andrew Wilkinson said today’s approval sends “a clear message to John Horgan and the NDP.”
“The time for obstruction is over,” Wilkinson said in a release. “Their government needs to get out of the way and support this project.”
He challenged the province’s move to spend tax payer money on another court battle.
B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, however, expressed deep concern with the pipeline approval.
“The Liberal government’s decision to forge ahead with the Trans Mountain Expansion project is an abdication of their responsibility to Canadians to show climate leadership,” Weaver said.
He said the Indigenous consultations remained flawed and criticized the use of tax payer dollars for the controversial project.
Mayor of Burnaby to fight pipeline
Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley says he will continue to fight the expansion project which would run through his city.
“I am extremely disappointed – but not surprised – that the government of Canada has put oil industry profits ahead of the lives of Burnaby’s residents,” Hurley said in a release. “This decision ignored the public safety and environmental threat to people whose lives and property will be at risk if the project goes forward.”
Hurley, a former firefighter, says the plan also puts first responders in danger. He said his city will apple for intervenor status in B.C.’s Supreme Court application.