Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today the approval of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, set to triple the oil transported to the Westridge terminal at the base of Burnaby mountain.
The National Energy Board recommended the project for approval in May this year, under 157 conditions.
The decision was expected following an announcement earlier this month that the Federal Government would be providing $1.5 billion to improve oil spill responses on Canada’s coasts. Trudeau announced that the Line 3 pipeline replacement in Alberta was also approved, and the Northern Gateway project on BC’s coast was rejected.
At a press conference, Trudeau explained that after “rigorous consultation and examination of the evidence,” the government felt that their decision was “safe, responsible, and in the interest of all Canadians.” When asked by journalists about the groups that opposed the pipeline in BC, Trudeau said in French that “it is difficult to achieve consensus on any matter.”
Trudeau: some "will be bitterly disappointed”
for example: https://t.co/mYIyTGTprf
— Jason Markusoff (@markusoff) November 29, 2016
Speaking to the near future of the tar sands, Trudeau said that “the fact is, oil sands production is going to increase in the coming years.” He went on to explain that transporting oil by pipeline is safer and more efficient than transporting it by rail.
The $6.8 billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion has been a controversial topic in BC, drawing thousands of protesters to Vancouver City hall earlier this month. Opponents to the pipeline include Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, the Simon Fraser Student Society, and many environmental, community, and Indigenous groups.
Simon Fraser University released a report earlier this week, examining the safety risks that would accompany the pipeline expansion and the corresponding tripling in size of the oil tank farm at the base of Burnaby Mountain. The report found that the expansion to the tank farm would increase safety risks to SFU, particularly due to the risk of fire and that the new oil tanks would be located closer to roadways. The Burnaby Fire Department has previously raised the same safety concerns.
SFU president Andrew Petter sent an email to the university yesterday community citing this report. In his email, he stated “Any increase in risks to the health and safety of the SFU community resulting from this expansion is unacceptable to the University.”
Kinder Morgan tank farm expansion poses risks to SFU. Read more: https://t.co/jcNvYYUNU7
— Simon Fraser Univ. (@SFU) November 28, 2016
Reaction to the announcement has been polarizing, with Mayor Robertson releasing a statement saying that he was “disappointed with today’s decision.” He added that he would “keep speaking out against this pipeline expansion that doesn’t make sense for our economic or environmental future.”
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May told Huffington Post Canada just before the announcement that she was “more than prepared to [. . .] be arrested and go to jail” over the project.
An emergency protest against the expansion is taking place at 5 p.m. today starting at CBC Vancouver (700 Hamilton Street)