Pipeline opponents this week received half of what they wanted: one pipeline instead of none.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday the end of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and the federal government’s conditional approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project that would twin an existing line and increase significantly the amount of raw oil product loaded onto tankers on B.C.’s coast.
It’s a win on the one hand — and a vow to move the battleground into the courts and even to the front lines of pipeline construction.
The Trans Mountain project means more tankers and for people who are generally opposed to pipelines and the proliferation of oil profiteering, that means further battles to stop the project — citing potential impacts on resident Killer whale populations and the environment in general. Where the courts will come into play will be mainly in regards to consultation with First Nations and the possible after-effects of what the pipeline would bring, on their treaty rights.
It’s a battle that will undoubtedly occur on B.C.’s west coast — not in the interior and probably not in Alberta, where the proposed pipeline originates. It is, after all, where the pipe ends and empties into the tankers, which transport the raw product to international markets. That means, in many respects, it’s the west coast that is bearing the possible brunt of spills and/or maritime incidents.
Little wonder, then, that it’s on the south coast and Vancouver Island where people feel they will see the biggest impacts from all of the what-ifs in regards to this issue.
As a result, and in the face of the more than 150 conditions placed upon it by both levels of government, this project is years away from construction. Expect it to be held up in the courts over most of that time. And despite it being a political decision to approve Trans Mountain, it could very well be — like Northern Gateway before it — the courts who find it objectionable and toss it back to the government.
All this, while the Energy East replacement pipeline project — over land from Alberta to Minnesota — won approval by somehow managing to stay off the radar.