B.C. Premier John Horgan says he’s disappointed by the federal approval of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
But he added that Ottawa has the authority to give the green light, and he’ll focus on making sure B.C. can protect its territory from the impact of a spill.
Horgan spoke just minutes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet announced that they have given the project the go-ahead.
The expansion is designed to carry nearly a million barrels of oil each day from Alberta’s oilpatch to the pipeline terminal in Burnaby.
Last month, the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled against the provincial government’s proposal for environmental legislation that would effectively stop the expansion project. The proposed law would have allowed the province to limit the flow of “heavy oil” into B.C., but the court said that would be in direct conflict with federal jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines.
B.C. officials have said they are appealing that court decision.
Environment Minister George Heyman said Tuesday that he continues to oppose the expansion.
“We know that British Columbians continue to be deeply concerned about the consequences of a sevenfold increase in tanker traffic in the Salish Sea,” Heyman told reporters.
“We will not abandon our responsibility to protect our land and our water.”
But the Opposition is urging the government to give up the fight.
“Today’s decision will bring jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars to local communities along the pipeline route. It will also provide an increased supply of refined and refinable product in the line,” B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said.
“It’s a great day for B.C. and a great day for Canada.”
A climate emergency
The federal government’s decision was immediately slammed by environmentalists, who suggested it was ironic to approve an oil and gas project less than 24 hours after declaring a national climate emergency.
“This is like declaring war on cancer and then announcing a campaign to promote smoking,” Patrick McCully, the climate and energy program director at Rainforest Action Network, said in a news release.
Margot Venton, the nature director for environmental law charity Ecojustice, said she saw no justification for the decision.
“The reality is that the government can put Canada on the path to a safe climate future and fulfil its legal responsibility to protect endangered killer whales, or it can push this pipeline through. It cannot do both,” Venton said in a news release.