SURREY — The Surrey Board of Trade says the federal government’s decision to approve the controversial Trans Mountain Expansion Project to Burnaby was “the correct one.”
On Tuesday, the federal government also announced it had approved the Enbridge Line 3 replacement, but rejected the Northern Gateway project across northern B.C. to Kitimat.
“We applaud today’s announcement,” SBoT CEO Anita Huberman said in a release Tuesday. “The decision is, as Prime Minister Trudeau stated, based on science and evidence, not politics.
“The Surrey Board of Trade is very supportive of the development of 15,000 jobs, mostly in trade, and appreciate the stress on environmental protections such as the 157 binding conditions by the National Energy Board as well as the investments in the Ocean Protection Plan,” Huberman added.
Premier Christy Clark stopped short of endorsing the decision, saying Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is now “very, very close” to winning B.C. government support.
“For four and a half years in British Columbia we have had a clear and we have had a very principled position and we’ve stuck to our guns. And that is the five conditions,” Clark said at a press conference Wednesday.
Asked which conditions have been met and which have not, she said more detail is needed from Ottawa on how its new Ocean Protection Plan will ensure world-class marine spill prevention and response. And more work is needed to determine a “fair share” for B.C. – the province’s fifth condition.
If I thought this project was unsafe for the B.C. coast I would reject it,” Trudeau said in Ottawa. “This is a decision based on rigorous debate, on science and on evidence. We have not been and will not be swayed by political arguments, be they local, regional or national.”
Trudeau said the decision complements the federal decision, supported by Alberta, to put a national price on carbon to help meet Canada’s international commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
He also said more pipeline capacity is needed to keep oil from travelling by rail across the country, at greater risk to communities.
“We have made this decision because it is safe for B.C. and it is the right one for Canada.”
Kinder Morgan’s $6.8-billion project would result in a seven-fold increase in tankers running through Vancouver harbour, carrying much more diluted bitumen than in the past. Trudeau noted it’s the twinning of an existing pipeline that has been in operation since 1953.
The expansion would triple Trans Mountain capacity to 890,000 barrels per day and result in an increase in oil tanker traffic through Burrard Inlet to about 35 a month, which opponents say would greatly increase the risk of an impossible-to-clean spill of diluted bitumen.
The Kinder Morgan approval sets the stage for a massive confrontation with environmentalists in B.C. and First Nations. Protesters have already been staging rallies and making preparations for what some believe will be a huge battle.
Hours after the announcement, hundreds of protestors took to Vancouver streets to voice opposition.
Environmental group Sierra Club BC says it “condemns in the strongest possible terms the decision to approve the Enbridge’s Line 3 and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipelines” and that B.C. has been made a “sacrifice zone for the Prime Minister’s incoherent climate and energy policy.”
Caitlyn Vernon, campaigns director for Sierra Club BC, said, “Today is the beginning of an epic battle to decide the kind of future we want for our communities, our country, and our climate.”
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives B.C. Office says the decision is “short-sighted.”
“By approving the Kinder Morgan pipeline, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has disappointed a generation and betrayed the rights and title of Indigenous people,” said Shannon Daub, Associate Director of the CCPA-BC Office and co-Director of the Corporate Mapping Project.
“The decision puts the fossil fuel industry’s interests ahead of the public’s and those of First Nations,” she added.
But the Surrey Board of Trade has long been an advocate of the infrastructure project.
“We do need to leave a better world for future generations. We do need to work hard to move green energy sources forward. But it won’t happen overnight,” Huberman added. “We do need to be realistic in regards to the continued need for fossil fuels until such a time as a viable alternative can be developed that is both cost effective and sustainable.”
-With files from Jeff Nagel