Today, as many British Columbians gather to support or oppose the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project, I want to share some of the reasons why I have come to support this project, and why our government approved it.
Many British Columbians have raised legitimate concerns about this project, and our government has listened. We’re taking action to ensure the coast and B.C. communities are not negatively affected. Here’s how:
- Protecting the ocean and marine life:
Protecting the ecological integrity of the B.C. coast – including the Salish Sea and the Vancouver Harbour – is a top priority. That’s why our government made the single-largest investment in Canadian history to protect our oceans, with a $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan. That investment will strengthen the Canadian Coast Guard, improve navigational safety, enhance emergency response capacity, provide new technologies to make cleanups more effective, and fund leading-edge scientific research. We also reopened the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station that the Harper government shuttered, and we’re putting into action the Recovery Plan for the Southern Resident Killer Whale, which includes measures to reduce the impact of noise from marine vessels on killer whales, ensure there is sufficient food available for the whales, and reduce the pressure on the whale population from persistent contaminants in the marine environment.
- Indigenous rights and engagement:
Our government is committed to the ongoing work of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and to greater Indigenous involvement in the review and monitoring of resource development projects. Before approving this pipeline expansion, the federal government consulted with 118 potentially affected Indigenous groups, to identify any outstanding issues and potential accommodation measures to mitigate impacts on Indigenous rights. As the pipeline expansion moves ahead, representatives from the National Energy Board, Indigenous communities, and the federal government will work collaboratively to ensure proper oversight and monitoring. This co-developed committee will monitor the Trans Mountain project, and related marine shipping, over its full lifecycle.
- Climate change:
Through Canada’s clean growth and climate action plan, we are working hard to reduce carbon pollution and strengthen our economy by putting a price on carbon pollution, phasing out coal, and investing in transit, buildings and clean technology solutions. Our climate plan accounts for the upstream emissions associated with the Trans Mountain expansion, and the oil production required to fill the pipeline fits within Alberta’s hard cap on oilsands emissions. Further, the National Energy Board requires Trans Mountain to develop an offset plan to achieve zero net emissions during the construction of the pipeline. While it may seem counter-intuitive, approving the Trans Mountain expansion project is fully consistent with Canada’s commitments under the Paris Agreement – and our government remains steadfastly committed to meeting our 2030 climate target.
- Science-based decisions: We approved this pipeline expansion based on our interim principles for environmental assessments – which required robust science, evidence and Indigenous traditional knowledge, as well as meaningful consultation with Canadians. In addition, we carefully considered the science related to how a diluted bitumen spill could affect the coast. Studies show that diluted bitumen behaves similarly to other forms of crude oil, and existing spill response methods are effective in recovering diluted bitumen in the unlikely event of a spill. Nonetheless, our Oceans Protection Plan will leave the B.C. coast and coastal communities better protected than before the Kinder Morgan pipeline was approved.
The fact is, the Kinder Morgan pipeline already exists – it has been delivering oil to the port of Vancouver safely for over 60 years, and carrying diluted bitumen for three decades. This project would simply add capacity to the existing pipeline, and we’ve set 157 binding conditions to ensure it can be constructed and operated safely.
Expanding the capacity of this pipeline makes sense – especially at a time when we need to be pulling together as Canadians to grow our economy, diversify our markets and protect Canadian jobs.
Economic benefits and jobs
The project will have real economic benefits both here in B.C. and elsewhere in Canada. According to the Conference Board of Canada, the project will generate $46.7 billion of government revenue from construction and operation over 20 years. British Columbia’s share would be $5.7 billion in direct revenues, with $922 million in municipal tax payments. That money would go a long way to help pay for hospitals and schools, as well as the development of future technologies needed to successfully shift B.C. and Canada to a lower carbon future.
The project would also generate $300 million through impact benefit agreements with 42 First Nations, injecting funds to strengthen indigenous communities and create good job opportunities.
And over $7 billion in capital investments from Kinder Morgan will spur economic activity and create thousands of well-paying jobs – including more than 15,000 construction jobs both in our province, and next door in Alberta. Overall, B.C. would see 24 per cent of the employment impacts and 12 per cent of the economic benefits of the Trans Mountain expansion.
The big picture
We can, and we must, protect our environment and communities while growing our economy. Some will disagree with our government’s approach, and we respect that. We are lucky to live in an open society where people with different views can debate them respectfully.
For a more detailed look at why I support this project, I would invite you to read an open letter I wrote last year, when the federal government approved the pipeline expansion: http://jwilkinson.liberal.ca/news-nouvelles/transmountainexpansion/
Our government will continue to listen and work hard on behalf of all British Columbians and Canadians to make sure the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion moves forward safely and responsibly.