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With social distancing measures in place, pipeline opponents would find it hard to gather for protests, which makes this the perfect time to build a pipeline, Alberta’s Energy Minister Sonya Savage said on a podcast by the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors.
"Now is a great time to be building a pipeline because you can't have protests of more than 15 people. Let's get it built," Savage said as quoted by Bloomberg.
The minister went on to say, "People are not going to have tolerance and patience for protests that get in the way of people working," adding, "People need jobs, and those types of ideological protests that get in the way are not going to be tolerated by ordinary Canadians."
The podcast prompted a reaction from Savage’s spokesperson, who confirmed she had been on the podcast but noted that “the limitations to public gatherings ... have benefited no one -- including project proponents and any opposition groups."
Alberta’s new government has taken up where Rachel Notley’s NDP government left off and has pursued the Trans Mountain pipeline even more relentlessly than their predecessors. With an oil industry pummelled by crisis after crisis and few growth opportunities, the pro-oil government’s determination to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built is probably understandable.
Work on Trans Mountain’s expansion—the project that has attracted vocal opposition—is already underway. Pipe installation in Alberta started last year, and the section is about 60 percent complete, CBC News reported recently, adding that work was now due to begin on a section of the pipeline passing through British Columbia.
The province’s government joined environmentalists and First Nations in opposing the project, claiming it would increase the danger of spills and leaks both along its route and in the waters around the port of Burnaby where the pipeline is supposed to load oil onto tankers bound for export markets.
The Trans Mountain project, which is federal property, has also been challenged multiple times in court. The last win for the project came in January this year, when Canada’s Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by British Columbia that aimed to stop work on the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.