Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected a hotly contested oil pipeline Tuesday while approving a far less controversial line shuttling oil to Asian markets.
Trudeau rejected Enbridge’s attempt to build the Northern Gateway pipeline. Activists and aboriginal groups raised concerns about the line’s impact on the environment.
The prime minister’s decision to approve Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion of its Trans Mountain pipeline on the same day could hurt his image as a climate change warrior. The expanded line would dump 890,000 barrels of crude a day through an already existing pipeline.
“There isn’t a country in the world that would find billions of barrels of oil and just leave it in the ground while there is a market for it,” Trudeau told reporters at a press conference. He has made going fossil-free part of his administration’s primary objectives.
Trudeau’s administration attempted to impose a “climate test” on new pipelines and record any potential increases in CO2 emissions earlier this month, but immediately told companies how to get around it.
The measure was expected to apply to TransCanada pipelines, the company looking to build the Keystone XL pipeline, and terminals capable of exporting liquefied natural gas.
Kinder Morgan officials praised Trudeau, calling the recent decision an example of how the prime minster is leading an energy revolution.
“This is a defining moment for our project and Canada’s energy industry,” said Ian Anderson, the president of one of the company’s subsidiary.
Suncor Energy, one of Canada’s largest oil companies, said it was thrilled with the expansion, but upset about the rejection of the other pipeline.
“Projects such as Northern Gateway, which allows for Canadian resources to access global markets, are a good thing not only for crude producers and marketers, but also the Canadian economy,” the company said in a press statement.
The Trans Mountain expansion project was not considered controversial project at the time, because it follows an already existing line that has been shipping oil from northern Alberta to the coast of British Columbia for decades.
It set off a firestorm of protests from activists, especially the last mile, which goes through one of Canada’s wealthiest and greenest suburban area.
Canada has repeatedly been unable to meet its decarbonization landmarks, despite Trudeau’s tough talk. Part of the problem may be his public hostility to the fossil fuel industry, according to one report published Tuesday.
Democrats and liberals “hostile to shale gas production might ultimately slow” reducing carbon emission levels, the report stated. The shale revolution, which helped expand natural gas production, it added, helps ratchet down emission levels.
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