TIK Statement on Pipeline Decisions
Today Canada's Cabinet announced decisions on three major pipeline projects, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and Line 3 Replacement, and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion, troublingly demonstrating that climate risk associated with building long-term fossil fuel infrastructure is not a deciding factor in Canada’s energy decisions. These decisions highlight deep flaws in Canada’s regulatory process for approving pipelines as it fails to protect our climate and environment, curtails public engagement, and infringes on Indigenous rights.
During his election campaign, Prime Minister Trudeau promised to submit new projects to review under new legislation. While invoking an inadequate patchwork of interim measures for pipeline reviews early in 2016, Trudeau tasked his ministers with mandates to reform environmental laws, including the National Energy Board and its processes, and he promised to value scientific evidence, Indigenous rights, and public participation.
But instead of demonstrating that commitment to evidence-based decision making, today Trudeau has seized on the political expediency of granting the oil patch its demands at the expense of our communities and our environment.
At a time when Canada is striving to reduce its annual emissions of 732 MT to 524 MT by 2030, Environment and Climate Change Canada estimates that Line 3 will introduce 21 to 27 MT of new upstream emissions annually, and Kinder Morgan will add a further 21 to 26 MT annually, each the equivalent of adding 4.4-5.7 million new cars to the roads each year. These additions fly in the face of responsible climate leadership and completely undermine the efforts of provinces like Ontario that have worked hard to reduce our own carbon pollution.
On the other hand, federal rejection of Northern Gateway reflects northern BC communities’ and Indigenous groups’ lack of consent that has been resounding for over a decade. In the streets and in the courts, the people of northern BC have pushed back against this project that would have seen 590,000 barrels per day of crude oil move from northern Alberta to the north coast of British Columbia through the protected Great Bear Rainforest.
Compared to today’s pipeline reviews, Northern Gateway’s process was far more rigorous with more stringent environmental assessment and broader public participation, yet it, too, failed to account for the significant climate impact of the project, which experts estimate as having up to 100 MT of annual lifecycle emissions, or the equivalent of adding 21.1 million new cars to the roads each year. Ultimately, the project failed in the courts on its engagement and consultation with Indigenous peoples.
Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion are the first major pipeline projects to be approved under the Harper government’s problematic legislation, introduced in 2012 – legislation that Trudeau promised to reform, but has instead endorsed with today’s decisions. Among other concerns, the Harper process sharply restricts public and Indigenous participation in reviews, and limits the scope of evidence presented to exclude most climate impacts of emissions related to the project. Under this process, environmental assessment is weak and incomplete, failing to provide a comprehensive analysis of cumulative environmental impacts at all stages of the project.
Today, the Trudeau government has disappointed by allowing the deficiencies of the current regulatory process to override the threat that continued expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure poses to orca whales, human health, and the global climate.
Despite these decisions, Transition Initiative Kenora stands steadfastly alongside communities across Canada in stating that these pipelines lack consent and will never be built.