Trans Mountain will push ahead despite opposition, Morneau tells Calgary business leaders

Posted May 31, 2018

Climate activists took to Seattle's Elliott Bay Tuesday to protest the Canadian government's decision to buy Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline.

Canada's federal government will buy Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd's Trans Mountain pipeline for C$4.5 billion ($3.5 billion) in a bid to save the project from political and environmental opposition, the government said on Tuesday.

A day after making the blockbuster announcement that the federal government would purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project, Canada's finance minister touched down in the heart of the energy sector to tout the move.

Mr Morneau said the deal with Kinder Morgan is likely to be closed by August 2018.

"There was a promise made, and obviously it's going to be a promise kept, that one way or another this pipeline would be built because it's in the national interest", Crey said. The overwhelming majority of Canada's oil exports are sold to American refiners at a discount to global benchmarks, reducing fuel prices for American consumers and income for Canadian producers.

The move to buy the pipeline from an affiliate of US -based pipeline company Kinder Morgan follows the company's threat to pull the plug on the expansion because of delays caused by opponents of the project. "The cost that they did not calculate in their $4.5 billion purchase is that Indigenous frontlines will stop this pipeline", Tsleil-Waututh member and Coast Salish Watch House spokesperson Will George said in a statement.

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The project has been opposed by BC's provincial government, led by John Horgan.

In a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Morneau warned that the Kinder Morgan deal does not set a new precedent for other projects.

"And only this prime minister would call himself a climate change leader and then be willing to spend $15 billion on a diluted bitumen pipeline to China", Cullen said.

After spending more than $850 million (USD) since it petitioned federal regulators for the project in 2013, pipeline company Kinder Morgan signaled in April that opposition to its plans to triple the design capacity for its Trans Mountain network to the western coast of Canada exposed its shareholders to undue risk.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson called the pipeline an "unacceptable risk" that threatens 10,000 jobs in the harbour.

"It was such a huge investment in the fossil fuel industry, but also for the federal government to be putting that many billions of dollars into a project that the private sector is walking away from - it seems quite risky", Harrison said.

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Once the sale is complete, he said, Canada will continue the construction on its own, with a view to eventually selling the whole thing down the road, once market conditions would allow it to get the best price.

While Wilson admitted he doesn't know how accurate the cost estimates for the project are, he believes Canada ultimately will make money off it.

The federal decision to buy the pipeline could prompt further legal challenges by Indigenous Peoples, said Prof.

New Brunswick Liberal MP Wayne Long said that while he's thrilled with the Trans Mountain decision, he'd like Trudeau to take another look at Energy East. The Export Development Bank of Canada will finance the plan and create a Crown corporation to run and manage the pipeline during Canada's ownership period.

"That's why we chose not to provide a subsidy to Kinder Morgan, but rather to enter into a commercial agreement that will make the most of the economic potential of this project", Morneau told the press.

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