BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson released the following statement in response to Tuesday’s decision by the federal government to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project:
“Today’s decision by the federal government sends a clear message to John Horgan and the NDP: The time for obstruction is over – their government needs to get out of the way and support this project.
“The majority of British Columbians support this project, including more than 40 First Nations who signed benefits agreements to support the pipeline expansion. Today’s decision will bring jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars to local communities along the pipeline route. It will also provide an increased supply of refined and refinable product in the line, which will lead to greater price relief at the gas pumps. It’s a great day for B.C. and a great day for Canada.
“While John Horgan and the NDP choose to pick fights with Alberta and Canada and spend taxpayer money on expensive court cases to block the pipeline, we will continue to stand up for B.C. communities and make sure our province shares in the billions of dollars in revenue this project will generate.
“British Columbia deserves better than a premier who puts politics above the interests of British Columbians and Canadians. This project is happening – it’s high time for John Horgan and the NDP to accept reality and get on board.”
BC GREEN PARTY
“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,” said Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party.
“Just yesterday these very same Ministers supported a motion that declared a climate emergency. How can this government declare a climate emergency and yet continue to invest in major expansions of fossil fuel infrastructure that will last 40-50 years?
“Now is the time for elected leaders to be bold and courageous. We need to urgently begin the transition away from fossil fuels and toward a clean, sustainable economy — to invest in clean technology, to help workers transition, to truly protect the environment upon which a healthy economy depends.”
The B.C. Green Party said that in addition to the climate crisis, the flawed First Nations consultation process, and the impacts on the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, there is also growing concern that the pipeline is a fiscally foolish project, now reliant on taxpayer money. Earlier, Chief Leah George Wilson of Tsleil-Waututh Nation joined the former Federal Environment Minister David Anderson in highlighting evidence that there is no compelling business case for the Trans Mountain expansion project. This includes concerns that the Asian market that is so often used as justification doesn’t exist for Alberta bitumen.
“No compelling business case has been made for the expansion, with Kinder Morgan offloading the risk onto the Canadian taxpayer. Proceeding with the Trans Mountain expansion is a reckless use of taxpayer money.”
The B.C. Green Caucus said it has consistently been opposed to this project, including in the confidence and supply agreement with the NDP government that commits the government to using every tool available to stop the expansion project.
BC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The BC Chamber of Commerce said it is pleased to see the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline —a project that is projected to inject $46.7 billion into the Canadian economy, and will provide much needed revenue to fund many of the social, health, and education services that British Columbians rely on.
“It’s a good day for Canada and BC,” said Val Litwin, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. “British Columbia is projected to receive $5.7 billion in revenue from the project over the next 20 years—to the benefit of communities throughout BC, including First Nations and Indigenous communities. But ‘approved’ does not mean ‘built.’ We need to see a solid plan to complete the project, in order to realize these benefits and send the message to the world that BC is open for business.”
In the BC Chamber of Commerce 2018 Collective Perspectives survey—which saw responses from some 900 members of the BC business community— 57% supported the Trans Mountain pipeline (with 21% neutral, 22% opposed.) Further, 78% of respondents wanted the government to prioritize attracting foreign investment.
“We are cautiously optimistic—hearing that shovels will be in the ground this season is a good sign. Further delays in the project’s completion could mean potential investors will simply take their money elsewhere,” Litwin said. “Our standard of living, and our commitment to addressing Indigenous reconciliation and climate action depends on restoring investor confidence in Canada and having access to international markets.
“While some may view TMX as simply a ‘pipeline project’, we see opportunities for families, jobs, infrastructure, and the ability to bring marginalized communities into the fold of economic stability and prosperity so many of enjoy. Now, Canadians are relying on their government to build a predictable regulatory framework, which is in the national interest.”
The BC Chamber of Commerce said it is a proud founding partner in the Confidence In Canada coalition that last year mobilized over 140 local and national organizations, companies, and communities in support of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project. This coalition continues to advocate for Canadians and Canadian businesses to ensure this country is an attractive place to invest, work, and raise families for generations to come.
The BC Chamber said it looks forward to seeing all levels of government working together to ensure construction commences this year.
Sierra Club BC released the following statement in response to the federal government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline and tankers project:
Further legal challenges are inevitable. We will pull together to support those legal challenges as they emerge.”The Trudeau government boxed itself into a corner when it panicked and purchased the pipeline. Taxpayers are now on the hook for $4.5 billion to buy it and an additional $7.4 billion for construction.”It’s costing taxpayers more than $12 billion to have Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick reject even modest climate action. We are not on track to meet our Paris climate targets.
“We will not stop standing up for wild salmon and clean water by opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline and tankers project. We will not stop working to avert climate breakdown and ecological collapse, and the economic collapse that will follow. We will not stop fighting for a livable future for our young people.
“Expanding fossil fuel infrastructure is a violent act towards current and future generations. It has to stop. Now.”
WEST COAST ENVIRONMENTAL LAW
Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territories – Environmental lawyers predict more challenges ahead for the Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker expansion, after the federal government’s latest announcement re-approving the project.
Despite Tuesday’s approval, a broad array of groups and individuals – including more than 150 Indigenous nations and tribes, numerous environmental organizations, citizen groups, municipal governments and labour organizations – stand strong in opposition to the project and say it will never be built.
“Whether it has this approval or not, the path forward for Trans Mountain will not be an easy one,” said staff lawyer Eugene Kung. “When the federal government bought the pipeline from Kinder Morgan, they tried to solve one problem and created a whole host of others. The federal government now wears many hats, some of which create a conflict: the proponent, the decision-maker, the enforcer of its own laws, and a fiduciary to First Nations, to name a few.”
“It is nearly impossible to make an unbiased decision without a strong moral and ethical compass. I won’t be surprised if we see more legal challenges arising from today’s decision,” Kung said on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s announcement follows the National Energy Board’s 22-week reconsideration of Trans Mountain, which was launched after the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the project’s approval in August 2018. The reconsideration looked at impacts of marine shipping and included additional Indigenous consultation, but lawyers note that the new review did not consider updated economic evidence or updated climate science.
“The NEB agreed that the project would have significant environmental impacts, and they justified those impacts based on an outdated economic case,” said Kung. “Regardless of future promised investments in clean energy, the reality is taxpayers will be out of pocket for the construction of this costly project that puts lands and waters at risk of oil spills, contributes to the climate crisis, and does not have Indigenous consent.”
In addition to the approval granted on Tuesday, Trans Mountain still requires hundreds of permits and other approvals before construction can go ahead, and over two dozen hearings must occur before officials can sign off on parts of the route.
PROGRESSIVE CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION OF CANADA
The Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA), whose member companies will be major builders of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project along with thousands of Alberta and B.C. construction workers, is urging the federal government to ensure nothing else stands in the way of this critically important project.
“We’ll believe this project is moving forward when the shovels are finally in the ground,” said Paul de Jong, President of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA), on Tuesday. “While today’s decision is the right one, it’s far from a ringing endorsement when the government is working so hard to kill major resource projects through legislation and regulations designed to make energy development less likely in the future.”
He said Bill C-69 will bog down major projects and drive up costs and uncertainty. Bill C-48 limits Canada’s export capacity by banning oil tankers carrying more than 12,500 metric tonnes of crude oil from stopping at ports along B.C.’s north coast. Both bills are likely to be passed into legislation this week.
“We’re urging the federal Liberals not to use Trans Mountain as a pawn in their re-election bid this fall,” said de Jong. “With thousands of jobs, billions in economic benefits and Canada’s credibility on the line, there’s too much at stake not to get this project built now, not months from now after an election.”
The TMX project is shovel ready, with thousands of construction workers waiting for the go ahead to return to work. PCA co-sponsored a rally in Vancouver on Tuesday in support of the project.
MUSQUEAM, SQUAMISH AND TSLEIL-WAUTUTH FIRST NATIONS
The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said that in spite of the federal cabinet approval of the controversial project, Indigenous leaders from across BC remain staunchly opposed to the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) and have vowed that it will never get built. The federal government was forced to redo consultation with First Nations after a unanimous Federal Court of Appeal quashed a 2016 approval “falling well below the mark” on meaningful consultation set by the Supreme Court of Canada.
A report issued last year from the world’s leading climate scientists issued a dire warning that there are only 12 years left to stem the impacts of global warming and keep the maximum temperature increase to 1.5C globally. We have a dozen years to undertake dramatic, urgent and unprecedented changes to our economies, and how we interact with the natural world. Earlier this week, the Government of Canada passed a motion declaring there is a climate emergency, and declaring that climate change is an urgent crisis that affects the health and security of Canadians, as well as it impacting the Canadian economy.
Tuesday’s announcement demonstrates a lackadaisical and irresponsible approach to combatting climate change and recognizing the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“This decision is disappointing, but not a surprise. 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.” said Chief Leah George-Wilson of Tsleil-Waututh Nation. “Unfortunately, this feels too familiar — Canada repeated many of the same mistakes from last time. We will review the decision carefully with our team, and we will consider our legal options to ensure our rights are protected.”
“The Title and Rights holders of our Indigenous Nations have not provided their consent,” said Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band and Secretary-Treasurer of the UBCIC. “The approvals of Indian Band Governments, under financial duress, do not meet the standards of a nation-to-nation relationship. Until such a time that our right to free, prior and informed consent are recognized and implemented, as set out in the human rights standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigeneous Peoples, we will continue to oppose these projects and stand in defense of our lands.”
“Our lands are burning and flooding. Our fish are dying and our people are suffering. Now is not the time to recklessly pursue environmentally devastating projects while our territories suffer,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “We will actively and continuously resist the pursuit of short-term gains, in order to ensure the quality of life and the well-being of our children and our children’s children. We are immensely disappointed by today’s announcement, but we are also prepared. We do not accept Canada’s pre-meditated decision, and we are prepared to continue to oppose this project through any means possible.”
Khelsilem, Squamish Nation Spokesperson, stated, “The Squamish Nation met with federal officials as they conducted their court-ordered Phase III consultations with First Nations. What we experienced was a shallow attempt at consultation that resulted in a failure to address our concerns. The failure to meaningfully engage with rights holders means this government is either not serious about building this pipeline or not serious about respecting Indigenous rights.”