June 18, 2019 5:05 pm
Updated: June 18, 2019 8:44 pm

Trans Mountain pipeline expansion approval ‘isn’t a victory to celebrate’: Alberta premier

WATCH ABOVE: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said while he is happy the federal government has reapproved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, construction will be something to celebrate.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says while he is pleased with the federal government’s reapproval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, it “isn’t a victory to celebrate.”

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The federal government announced its decision to reapprove the contentious project on Tuesday afternoon, nine months after the Federal Court of Appeal ripped up the original federal approval, citing incomplete Indigenous consultations and a faulty environmental review.

READ MORE: Trans Mountain pipeline expansion gets green light to proceed

On Tuesday afternoon, Kenney said the approval doesn’t mean construction or completion of the pipeline, and he will continue to push to get the expansion built.

“It is just another step in a process that has frankly taken too long,” Kenney said. “That’s why we’ll measure success not by today’s decision but by the beginning of actual construction and more importantly, by completion of the pipeline.

“It’s time to get it done. It’s time to build the pipeline.”

The Trans Mountain project, which triples the capacity of the existing line, will take more oil from Alberta to ports and tankers in B.C. to fetch a better price abroad.

“This is a test for our economic future,” Kenney said Tuesday.

“Right now, without market access to global energy markets, we are massively underselling one of our country’s greatest assets.”

He added, “Canada’s energy producers have demonstrated a growing investment and progress in shrinking their environmental and carbon footprint.”

Kenney also urged the federal cabinet to take action on other fronts to get more oil to global energy market, such as accepting proposed amendments on Bill C-69 and abandoning Bill C-48. C-69 overhauls the assessment process for approving major projects like pipelines; C-48 bans oil tankers off B.C.’s northern coast.

Critics say Bill C-69, as it stands, would make it very difficult for energy mega-projects like pipelines to get built.

Watch below: Kenney said the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project will likely not have a significant impact on Alberta’s economy, as much of the construction will be done south of the border

Business leaders also say they will hold off on popping champagne corks until construction begins on new pipe from Edmonton to the West Coast.

“It was essential to show the world that our country can get major infrastructure projects approved,” said CEO Tim McMillan of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers at an afternoon news conference.

“It is now essential we show the world we can get them built.”

Trans Mountain was approved in 2016 when former Alberta premier Rachel Notley’s NDP was in power.

The project was met with fierce opposition from the B.C. government and others and was cancelled altogether by the Federal Court of Appeal in 2018 pending further consultations with Indigenous groups and more studies on the marine impact.

Notley said Tuesday the federal decision to re-approve the project was the right one and it was aided by her government’s work to build awareness and public approval for it.

But Notley said she worries Kenney’s confrontational approach to oil critics will make it harder for Trans Mountain to get built, even with the federal approval.

“The question is: what happens from this point forward?” asked Notley.

“The level of approval and support for the pipeline in B.C. has grown because of the work that we’ve done.

“But picking a fight with those who are opposed to it and essentially enhancing the intensity of the opposition actually jeopardizes the ability of the pipeline to move forward without delay.”

Kenney said he won’t be taking any advice from Notley, who is now the Opposition leader.

He said Notley’s government failed miserably by generally speaking out against pipelines and pushing Trans Mountain only out of political convenience.

He also said he hopes B.C. Premier John Horgan will stop fighting against the project.

“I would say to Premier Horgan, ‘You’ve reached the point of diminishing political returns … Let’s be nation builders together. Let’s realize the dream of confederation. Let’s be partners in prosperity.”’

Watch below: Tuesday’s long-awaited decision to reapprove the contentious project comes nine months after the Federal Court of Appeal ripped up the original federal approval

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is sympathetic to concerns about the environment and the need to transition to cleaner sources of energy, but says that in order to fund that transition, Canada needs to take advantage of its natural resources while they are still needed.

As such, the Liberals will require that every dollar in federal revenue coming from the project be reinvested in clean energy and green technology.

That includes an estimated $500 million a year in new annual corporate tax revenues once the pipeline is in service, as well as any revenues from the promised sale of the entire expanded pipeline
back to the private sector.

READ MORE: 5 things to know about the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project

Trudeau says construction will restart this construction season, but there is no specific date yet. Trans Mountain Canada will have to apply a second time for all the necessary federal, provincial and
municipal permits before breaking ground.

“It’s too early to celebrate this decision. I will be more optimistic after construction commences and is completed on TMX,” said Gary Mar, CEO of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, in an interview.

Mark Little, CEO of Suncor Energy Inc, and Tim McKay, president of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Canada’s two biggest oil producers, both called on the government to make sure construction starts as soon as possible.

“It is important that construction restart immediately to create and maintain jobs and also ensure that Canada receives full value for its resources,” said McKay in a statement.

Watch below: Nine months after the courts quashed Ottawa’s first approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the prime minister says this time, it will be built. Fletcher Kent reports.

READ MORE: Trans Mountain approval comes too late for some: ‘Many families didn’t survive this’

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson also weighed in on the decision Tuesday, saying approval of the project is important.

“I want to thank everybody for their perseverance, chiefly minister Amarjeet Sohi, who was given a really tough file and I guess he’s been able to convince his colleagues on behalf of Edmontonians and Albertans on the importance of this project to our economy,” Iveson said.

“Since the pipeline starts here, it’s near and dear to many of our hearts. We’ve been waiting for a long time for this.”

Watch below: Kenney said the federal government’s approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is another step in the process, but that Albertans shouldn’t celebrate wildly

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the pipeline is a “nation-building project,” which will help open up worldwide markets for Calgary-based companies.

“By providing multiple markets for Canadian oil, we will no longer be held captive by a market that is increasingly providing for their own needs,” Nenshi said in a series of tweets.

“As the prime minister correctly pointed out, market access continues to be a concern. For that reason, the two bills currently under consideration, C-69 & C-48, need to be reconsidered.”

The mayor said legislation is needed that takes the environment and Indigenous concerns into account, without sacrificing the future of the energy industry.

“It is my hope that any opponents to this project will be able to accept the decision of the federal government and allow this project to proceed without delay,” he said.

“Now, let’s get shovels in the ground.”

Watch below: Tim McMillan, president and CEO of CAPP, responds to the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project

With files from The Canadian Press.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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