Trans Mountain pipeline court decision ‘a real sad day for Alberta,’ says energy expert
“It’s a real sad for Alberta and for Canada in terms of what it’s going to mean for our economy,” said Richard Masson, executive fellow at the school of public policy at the University of Calgary and former CEO of the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission.
“This kind of delay in terms of getting a pipeline built means we are selling oil at prices that are very discounted from what we should be getting.”
In a unanimous decision by a panel of three judges, the court said the National Energy Board’s review of the proposal was so flawed that the federal government could not rely on it as a basis for its decision to approve the expansion.
The court also concluded that the federal government failed in its duty to engage in meaningful consultations with First Nations before giving the project the green light.
Alberta’s UCP Leader Jason Kenney said the Federal Court’s decision is “devastating news” for Canada’s economy and for Alberta workers.
“This decision suggests that we cannot get major infrastructure built that creates wealth, prosperity and good jobs,” Kenney said.
“I think Albertans have a right to be angry and frustrated. They were promised that if we just respected the rule of law and did everything by the book, and if we paid the punitive carbon tax, we would get a pipeline built and start getting a fair price for our oil. That has not happened,” he said.
“For the last year, the premier has constantly told us they’re batting 1,000, this is basically a done deal, pick up your tools, we have a pipeline to build, high-fiving, spiking the football. That triumphalism has been wrong.”
WATCH: Alberta UCP Leader Jason Kenney says Rachel Notley “drank the proverbial Kool-Aid” on the promises about the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Kenney is calling on the feds to immediately appeal the decision with the Supreme Court of Canada and to “pursue whatever additional consultations the Federal Court is demanding.”
“This is especially important given that every Canadian citizen is now a shareholder in the Trans Mountain pipeline,” Kenney said.
“This is not about electoral politics. This is just bad for Canadians. Period.”
WATCH: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley pulls out of federal climate plan after court ruling over Trans Mountain pipeline expansion
Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel also suggested Notley should shoulder much of the blame for the lack of progress on the pipeline project.
“[She] owes all Albertans an apology and answers on the hopes and monies which have been committed to this project and how we are going to manage the challenges of the federal government’s new Bill C-69 as they relate to this project.”
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Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan said the party supports the pipeline expansion and Thursday’s decision will have a significant impact on the province’s economy. However, Khan also pointed out that both issues pointed out by the court need to be addressed.
“We believe both of those issues must, and can, be revisited and addressed to the satisfaction of the courts, and in a way that balances the rights and benefits of all Canadians. This can be a brief, but specific and focused and meaningful examination, as the court directed. It must be a fair and transparent review,” Khan said in a statement.
“Today’s Federal Court ruling is a setback. But it is not the end of the Trans Mountain pipeline.”
WATCH: Just two days after construction began on the Trans Mountain pipeline, work has been halted by a major court decision. Tom Vernon reports.
Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt said he expects the federal government to appeal the decision with the Supreme Court of Canada. However, he added that even if the decision is overturned, the delays greatly damage both the Trudeau and Notley governments.
“Notley is going to be blamed for this. But the FCA (Federal Court of Appeal) decision was entirely outside of her control,” he said.
“It is a much bigger problem for Trudeau. The failed consultation (phase 3) occurred in 2016 when Trudeau was PM. It was not NEB who didn’t consult properly, it was the Crown.”
Kinder Morgan Canada Limited — the company charged with building the pipeline — said they are reviewing the decision and are suspending construction “in a safe and orderly manner.”
“We remain committed to building this project in consideration of communities and the environment, with meaningful consultation with Indigenous peoples and for the benefit of Canadians,” the company said in an email. “The court decision was not a condition of the transaction between KML and the federal government.”
WATCH: The Federal Court of Appeal has quashed construction approvals for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Global’s Paul Haysom reports on what it means going forward.
Dennis McConaghy is a retired vice-president of TransCanada pipelines and called the decision “abominable.”
He said the decision puts the federal government in a terrible place.
“There’s no question that if they decide to try to remedy as the court is asking them, we’re talking about years,” he said.
“It just reinforces that you can’t get major infrastructure projects built in this country because even after you think you have approvals, courts second-guess what occurs.”
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The Explorers and Producers Association of Canada (EPAC) expressed “deep dismay at this devastating decision” in a news release.
“It’s hard to conceive of a project that could have had more layers of review, consultation and approvals at the NEB and the federal cabinet,” the EPAC release said. “To have a court panel review all that work and conclude years later that it wasn’t enough will give any project proponent a reason to doubt the wisdom of investing in Canada.”
EPAC said it represents about 160 companies in the oil and gas sector in Canada.
WATCH: Reaction was fast and furious Thursday morning, as the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the Trudeau government’s approval of the contentious Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Slav Kornik has the details.
Reaction to the ruling came swiftly from one of the world’s most high-profile environmental organizations.
“This is a massive victory for Indigenous nations, environmental groups and people across the country,” Greenpeace Canada spokesperson Mike Hudema said in a statement on the group’s website. “The court unanimously rejected a process that was flawed from the start.
“Now it’s time for Prime Minister Trudeau to read the writing on the wall, dump this pipeline and shift the billions of public dollars slated for this problem-plagued project into Canada’s renewable energy economy.”
Meanwhile, the Rainforest Action Network, a U.S.-based environmental protection organization, also welcomed the court’s decision.
“This is a great victory for Indigenous communities everywhere fighting against destructive projects being imposed upon their territories,” said Patrick McCully, climate and energy program director in a news release. “It signals that governments, corporations, and funders must all respect Indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consent.”
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) described the ruling as an “unfortunate temporary setback” and encouraged the government to keep the project moving forward in line with the court decision.
“We urge the Trudeau government to act quickly to begin a corrected consultation process in accordance with the court’s ruling that it be ‘brief and efficient while ensuring it is meaningful’ in order to minimize cost to Canadian taxpayers,” a CTF news release said Thursday.
Alberta Party caucus leader Rick Fraser expressed his “strong disappointment” in the court’s decision.
“This is getting ridiculous,” Fraser said in a news release. “Albertans have been watching this project run into delay after delay, and for a project that is this important to our provincial economy, that is simply unacceptable.”
WATCH: Calgary political analyst Duane Bratt joins Global News to discuss the ramifications after the Federal Court quashed the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
In Calgary, the city’s mayor added his voice to the seemingly growing chorus of disappointment from country’s oil and gas centre.
“To say I’m disappointed in this decision and related delay to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is an understatement,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi in an email to Global News. “This pipeline is a critical piece of infrastructure for our nation, and it will provide important benefits to our economy from coast to coast.”
With files from Global News’ Phil Heidenreich.
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