SOURCE: Seattle Times

DATE: June 18, 2019

SNIP: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday approved a major expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline that would result in a surge of new oil tanker traffic through Pacific Northwest waters, a development that opponents have sought to forestall through legal challenges and protests.

“Today, I am announcing our government has newly approved the Trans Mountain project,” Trudeau told reporters. “The company plans to have shovels in the ground this construction season.”

The project would nearly triple the pipeline capacity, helping to open new markets for crude processed from oil sands in Alberta, where the project has fierce political support.

Opponents include Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and British Columbia Premier John Horgan, as well as a coalition of environmental groups, Canadian First Nations and U.S. tribal groups. All are concerned about the risk of a major oil spill to orcas and other marine life as tankers make their way through interior waters to exit through the Strait of Juan de Fuca into the Pacific.

Trudeau initially approved the project, which is expected to cost more than $5.4 billion, in 2016. He also backed an unusual government buyout of the pipeline from Texas-based Kinder Morgan in a deal that closed last year. And Trudeau, on Tuesday, said that every dollar the government earned from the pipeline project would be invested in a clean energy transition [Hypocrisy Alert!!!] as he sought to portray the development of the pipeline to carry more oil to market was not in contradiction with his efforts to combat climate change spurred by combustion of these fuels.

Trudeau’s approval comes a year after the project suffered a blow from a decision released by The Federal Court of Appeal in Canada. The court found that the effects of the pipelines on orcas were not properly addressed and the concerns of First Nations were not adequately considered.

The court decision required that the government redo its consultation with the First Nations and assess the impacts on whales. The stage was set for Trudeau’s decision to greenlight the pipeline by a February ruling from Canada’s National Energy Board that released a report that recommended the project should be approved.

That ruling gave fresh hope to proponents, including Alberta oil producers eager to find a way to get more oil to international markets.

U.S. tribes decried the decision to expand the pipeline.

“The orca and salmon know no border, and the risks to indigenous peoples in both Canada and the US also cross borders,” Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman said in a statement. “The Trudeau government failed to do the right thing.”

Inslee, in a February statement, attacked the board recommendation:

“The Canadian Energy Board’s own analysis found that this pipeline would be detrimental to the survival of the southern resident orcas, increase greenhouse gas emissions and worsen global climate change. Yet they still recommended that the expansion move forward. This is deeply irresponsible.”