Notley’s Climate Change plan earns Trudeau’s Pipeline approval

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today the fate of three pipelines that have dominated political debate in Alberta over the past six years. Yes to Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain Pipeline. No to the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. Yes to the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline replacement. Plus, a ban of tanker traffic along British Columbia’s North Coast.

Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau

Mr. Trudeau heaped praise on Premier Rachel Notley for Alberta’s flagship climate change policy, which includes a price on carbon, the elimination coal-fired power plants, a cap on carbon emissions, and significant investments in renewables, as a central reason for the pipeline approval.

Alberta’s Climate Plan is a vital contributor to our national strategy,” Mr. Trudeau said. “This would not be possible without the leadership of the Notley government,” he said.

Mr. Trudeau basically said everything but “Hey Alberta, Rachel Notley is the reason you got a pipeline.”

It has been a long, dark night for the people of Alberta… Today we are finally seeing some morning light,” Ms. Notley said in a statement released from Ottawa this afternoon. That morning light could help drive up the Alberta NDP’s support in the polls, which has dwindled over their first 18 months in office.

Rachel Notley Edmonton MLA Strathcona NDP

Rachel Notley

The pipeline approval is a big political win for Ms. Notley’s government as it deals with an economic downturn caused by the low international price of oil. Her conservative critics have attacked her for not being a more vocal cheerleader for pipelines, but it appears a strategy of quiet climate change diplomacy with Ottawa may have been more effective.

It is odd that after years of hearing pro-pipeline rhetoric from Conservative political leaders about the need for more privately-owned and operated pipelines, it was an NDP Premier and a Liberal Prime Minister who secured their approval.

Interim federal Conservative leader Rona Ambrose criticized the government for not approving Northern Gateway, saying it cost the creation of 4,000 jobs, and claimed that Mr. Trudeau does not have enough political capital to make the Trans-Mountain project a reality.

While the pipeline has been approved on paper, it has not been built yet. The Kinder Morgan website projected a September 2017 start of construction.

kinder-morgan-trans-mountain-pipeline-runSupport for pipelines is high in Alberta, but not so much in British Columbia, where there will be fierce opposition to Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain Pipeline expansion.

While visiting B.C. last September, I picked up a copy of Burnaby Now, a major newspaper in the City of Burnaby. Reported on the front page was a story about a charity-run style event against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. In the same newspaper, an editorial cartoon lambasted BC NDP leader John Horgan for his then-indecisive position on the Kinder Morgan pipeline (he is now against it).

As an Albertan, I was unaccustomed to seeing positive mainstream media coverage of a pipeline protest. Editorial views in Alberta’s mostly-Postmedia owned newspapers are typically boiled down to ‘NDP bad, pipelines good.’

But the view in Burnaby was different, literally.

Unlike Alberta, where oil and gas is a large employer and many large oil projects are hidden from public view in the far north, the Kinder Morgan pipeline staging area is clearly visible on the side of Burnaby Mountain near Simon Fraser University. It is a powerful symbol.

If you believe that carbon emissions are a key cause of climate change, it makes sense that you would oppose the expansion of a permanent piece of infrastructure to transport oil. But stopping the Trans Mountain pipeline will not stop the development of Canada’s oil industry. Oil will continue to be shipped by truck or by rail but the policies included in the Climate Leadership Plan may lead to reduced carbon emissions.

With a provincial election in BC scheduled for early next year, expect the pipeline debate to take a central role in the campaign.

But in the meantime, Ms. Notley and Mr. Trudeau can enjoy their political victory.

The symbolism of today’s announcement is great, because Mr. Trudeau’s father was the great antagonist to western Canadian interests, and because it affirms the national direction on carbon pricing in the climate change policy debate.

As a friend and frequent observer of Alberta politics pointed out today, this might be the most politically significant pro-western decision made by a non-conservative Prime Minister in modern Canadian history.


Trump advisor coming to Alberta

Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway is headlining a fundraiser for the Alberta Prosperity Fund, a right-wing group backing Jason Kenney‘s hostile takeover of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party.

The same group hosted American anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist at a closed door reception in Calgary last November.

11 thoughts on “Notley’s Climate Change plan earns Trudeau’s Pipeline approval

  1. Jerrymacgp

    You know a policy decision is moderate and even-handed, when extremists on both sides rant & rave against it.

    The Conservatives are in favour of every pipeline proposal from anywhere to everywhere, regardless of opposition. The Greens, the federal NDP’s Leap fans, and other enviro-extremists are against any pipeline anywhere: the BANANA position (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything). This decision hits the sweet spot of the middle ground.

    Reply
  2. Ron

    ” Oil will continue to be shipped by truck or by rail – but carbon pricing may lead to reduced carbon emissions.” You mean 2+2=3?

    Yes but the minute they can’t make a buck the roads and rail can be repurposed. They are simply interim methods of priming the market while you build pipe. A pipeline is much harder to shut down.

    We will shut down this province (BC) before we will allow more oil and evil bitumen to threaten our shores and lands. When we are done, the old KM line will be shut down too.

    Notley & Trudeau’s greenwashing has NOT purchased social license. We see through it.

    Reply
    1. Chris

      You’re in luck. The Kinder Morgan pipeline doesn’t transport bitumen, “evil” or otherwise, so no worries there. It does, however, carry jet fuel for YVR, so if you want to shoot yourself in the foot, have at it.

      Current road and rail shipment is not “priming the market.” The market exists. If you’re concerned about your shores and lands, you should probably lie down on the TransCanada or a rail track in the Rogers Pass somewhere. Any analysis of environmental impact would clearly show those transport methods as being far riskier than a twinned pipeline. Unless you’re suggesting the complete shutdown of oil products by road, rail, and pipe? If so, then you literally will shut down the province.

      Reply
  3. Dan McAvena

    Dave I will state unequivocally that the only pipeline that will be built from start to finish will be Line Three as to wit BC First Nations will go the International World Court in the Hague to stop Kinder Morgan. I predict that Kinder Morgan will be constructed in pieces and will not be operational until long after we have all legalized marijuana to ease the consternation we Albertans all feel.

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  4. john

    This is not a politically significant pro-WESTERN decision. Alberta is EAST of British Columbia last time I looked. This is the age old story where the west gets screwed by the east. Now it’s Albertans who are the eastern bastards out to screw the west. BC should separate.

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  5. David

    Part of the Harper government legacy (which Jason Kenney, Brian Jean and Rona Ambrose were all a part of) was to so poison the atmosphere around pipelines that there will continue to be a huge political debate, especially in BC.

    The BC opposition is really NIMBY, not about reducing greenhouse gases. While their fears are real, they are being exaggerated. I doubt all the whales are going to die because of this pipeline expansion. However talking about climate change is more politically appealing for the BC opponents. Alberta is landlocked, so if we can not get pipelines to tidewater, the other options is to continue to sell only to the US at a lower price or ship by rail. If the oil does not go through the Kinder Morgan pipeline (which is already there and has oil already flowing, so this is really an expansion, not a new pipeline) then it will go to the coast by rail or to the US via another pipeline. However, Albertans and Canadians will get less for the oil, due to the higher shipping costs by rail and lower price to the US.

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    1. GregH

      “I doubt all the whales are going to die because of this pipeline expansion.”

      Good of you to assume that risk on behalf of the whales, and the population of BC.

      Reply
      1. David

        I doubt that neither all the whales or the people of BC will die as a result of this pipeline expansion, although some pipeline opponents have been making recent claims about the whales in the area, which I believe are exaggerated and which led to my comment.

        By the way, a good portion of this pipeline also goes through the Province of Alberta, where I live. I am not asking the population of BC to assume some risk Albertans are not willing to bear. There is risk to everything and someone in BC could be hit by a run away Sky Train too.

        As we are a landlocked province, a very important part of being in this country is to have reasonable access to ports, oceans and export markets. BC asked for a railway as a part of joining Canada and that rail access has served Alberta well, but it is not a safe a way to transport oil as a pipeline. I believe the best choice was made by Federal government, despite the fears (some exaggerated), which have been stoked by some.

        Reply

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