Canadian PM To Impose ‘Climate Test’ For Pipelines & Natural Gas

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration will judge future oil pipelines and energy infrastructure by how much they impact global warming and native Indian tribes.

Trudeau’s Liberal government will require officials to file extensive environmental impact statements on pipelines and record any potential increases in carbon dioxide emissions, as well as consult with First Nations or Native Indian tribes. The measure is expected to apply to TransCanada pipelines, the company looking to build the Keystone XL pipeline, and terminals capable of exporting liquefied natural gas.

The government is expected to formally announce details of the “climate test” in February. Energy projects under review by regulators will face huge new hurdles to get government approval outside of the current quasi-judicial regulatory process.

During Canada’s October election, Trudeau promised strict environmental reviews of energy infrastructure projection, including assessing its impacts on Canada’s carbon emissions while simultaneously promising to give individual provinces greater control over its own environmental policy.

“We are working very, very hard right across the country with municipal leaders, with provincial leaders to make sure we’re creating the social licence, the oversight, the environmental responsibility, [and] the partnership with communities to get our resources to market in a responsible way,” Trudeau told Canada’s House of Commons earlier this month. “Because that’s what it takes in the 21st century.”

Trudeau’s promise has emboldened liberal political leaders across Canada to double down on opposing pipeline and energy projects critical to the economy of the central provinces, like Alberta. Energy accounted for 25.5 percent of Alberta’s economy in 2014, according to the provincial government.

“The prime minister should stop using his cellphone for selfies with Leo DiCaprio and pick it up and call Denis Coderre to fight for natural resource jobs,” Rona Ambrose, an Alberta representative who serves as the interim leader of the Conservative party, told reporters Monday. Ambrose went on to remind Trudeau that more than 100,000 Canadians have already lost their energy sector jobs.

Conservative members of parliament have frequently criticized Trudeau’s Liberal government for failing to support central Canada’s energy-based economy against environmentalist critics who would deny landlocked provinces access to markets. Politically motivated delays on export infrastructure are expected to greatly hamper the energy industry’s prospects.

Trudeau claims to be pro-Keystone XL, but has repeatedly stated that good relations with the United States should not hinge on Keystone’s approval. Trudeau’s Liberal Party, however, is opposed to Keystone XL. A Liberal Party campaign co-chair resigned after a memo he wrote was leaked to the press detailing how TransCanada could effectively lobby a Liberal Canadian government.

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