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Trudeau approves 1 million barrels a day of export pipeline capacity

The Trudeau government has just announced its approval of both the 890,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain pipeline and the 760,000 barrel per day Line 3 pipeline.

The approval of the Calgary-based Enbridge Line 3 pipeline means the building of 1,600 kilometres of new pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior Wisconsin, which is situated on the western tip of Lake Superior. The original 390,000 barrel per day Line 3 pipeline was built in 1968 and will now be decommissioned and left underground. The new larger pipeline will carry 760,000 barrel per day and will have the capacity to carry diluted bitumen for 50-60 years. Enbridge admits the pipeline would mean 19 to 26 megatonnes of upstream greenhouse gas emissions each year.

And Texas-based Kinder Morgan can now proceed with its 890,000 barrels per day pipeline from northern Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia. The original Trans Mountain was built in 1953. That pipeline will now be twinned to increase its capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day. The tar sands pipeline will cross 246 watercourses in Alberta and 1,063 watercourses in British Columbia. It will also mean 400 export supertankers departing from the Westridge Marine Terminal at Burrard Inlet each year. Once fully operational the Kinder Morgan project would produce about 20 to 26 megatonnes of emissions each year.

The Tsleil-Wauthuth First Nation and other First Nations have vowed to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline. The Ochapowace, Keeseekoose, George Gordon and Pasqua First Nations in Saskatchewan have all expressed concerns about the Line 3 pipeline, as has the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

The Vancouver Sun reports, “Kinder Morgan continues to say it plans to begin construction in September 2017 with a completion date slated for late 2019.” The National Energy Board website notes, “If [Line 3] is approved, the targeted in-service date is early 2019. Decommissioning activities are proposed to begin once the replacement pipeline is in service, and would take 12 to 18 months to complete.”

The Council of Canadians is opposed to both pipelines and contends that neither one will be built.

This evening, Ottawa-based Council of Canadians energy and climate justice campaigner Daniel Cayley-Daoust stated, “We reiterate our commitment to building a cleaner and healthier economy and to block these devastating pipelines. We will support the fight led by Indigenous communities across Canada to prevent the construction of pipelines on their territories. Indeed they are the ones leading the charge against climate change and to protect water.”

The Council of Canadians has been opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline since August 2011 by participating in marches, protests and civil disobedience actions, supporting chapter activism, petitions and a court action, writing blogs, and organizing numerous public events and a six-community speaking tour. We have also been expressing our opposition to Line 3 since March 2014.

Despite today’s approval of 960,000 to 1,650,000 barrels per day of pipeline capacity, the Trudeau government is not ruling out approval at a later date of the 830,000 barrel per day TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline or the 1,100,000 barrel per day TransCanada Energy East pipeline.

Today, Prime Minister Trudeau stated that the approval of these pipelines fit within the 100 megatonne a year cap the Alberta government has placed on tar sands emissions. The current level of emissions is 70 megatonnes a year, meaning this “cap” allows for a 40 per cent increase in current emissions.

That cap is not science based. A study by researchers from University College London has concluded that no more than 7.5 billion barrels of oil can be extracted from the tar sands by 2050 to limit climate change at 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Given the combined capacity of Line 3 and Trans Mountain is 602,250,000 barrels a year, not counting any other pipeline, that limit would be reached within 12.5 years.

Trudeau says, “There isn’t a country in the world that would find billions of barrels of oil and leave it in the ground while there’s still a market for it.” The Council of Canadians holds a different view. We have endorsed the Leap Manifesto which calls for a 100 per cent clean energy future by 2050.