Energy

Major Pipeline On Hold Amid Mounting Protests

Reuters

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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North America’s largest energy infrastructure company has opted to suspend all non-essential activity and spending on its ambitious project following relentless protests and opposition from local government.

Kinder Morgan’s decision puts in limbo its controversial Trans Mountain pipeline that would almost triple the flow of oil from Canada’s oil sands to the Pacific Coast. The move further aggravates debate between the country’s energy production supporters and environmentalists.

“… we have determined that in the current environment, we will not put KML shareholders at risk on the remaining project spend,” KML Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Kean said in a Sunday statement featrued on the company’s website. The public statement blamed the stalemate on “jurisdictional differences,” adding the pipeline enjoys support from the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments but can’t move forward given opposition from the more liberal British Columbia government.

The company has not completely given up, however. Kinder Morgan will consult with various stakeholders in an attempt to reach an agreement by May 31st and resume work on the project.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline — which carries refined and crude oil from Alberta to the British Columbia coastline — has been operating since 1953.  The company proposed to expand the pipeline from Edmonton, AB to Burnaby, B.C., it announced in April 2012. The battle to actually complete the project continues to this day.

If completed, the $7.4 billion dollar project would greatly boost the number of oil tankers traveling between Canada and the United States. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who governs oil-rich Alberta and is among the fiercest supporters of the project, pointed to the amount of new jobs, millions in economic benefit, and access to new markets as reasons for construction to continue.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan, along with environmentalist groups, has led the opposition. Horgan cited the need to protect his province’s coastal communities, in a public statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation on Monday.

“The federal process failed to consider B.C.’s interests and the risk to our province. We joined the federal challenge, started by others, to make that point,” a portion of the statement read. “We believe we need to grow the economy while protecting the environment. We want to work to address these challenges together. But we will always stand up for British Columbians, our environment and the thousands of jobs that depend on our coast.”

The battle between provinces has placed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the middle. Despite being a left-of-center politician who shot down other pipeline projects, Trudeau approved the Trans Mountain project in 2016 and has since asked for Horgan to discontinue stalling its construction.

In a Sunday tweet, the liberal party leader referred to the pipeline as a matter of “national interest” and called for it to be built.

Notley has called on Trudeau to use the force of the federal government to intervene.

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