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Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has offered financial aid to Kinder Morgan to make sure the expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline gets built despite strong opposition from British Columbia.
Trudeau announced the plan to media after an emergency meeting with the PMs of Alberta and B.C. yesterday, signaling the bigger problem for the federal government was not B.C.’s opposition, but Kinder Morgan’s intention to drop the project unless it gets the assurance it needs from Ottawa that it would be allowed to build the pipeline in peace.
“I have instructed the minister of finance to initiate formal financial discussions with Kinder Morgan, the result of which will be to remove the uncertainty overhanging the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project,” Trudeau said after the meeting, adding that the government “is actively pursuing legislative options that will assert and reinforce the government of Canada’s jurisdiction in this matter.”
The latter has been apparently necessitated by B.C. Prime Minister John Horgan’s attempts to find a way that asserts the province as the ultimate authority when it comes to environment, even though B.C. opposition lawmakers believe such an attempt is doomed.
In fact, Horgan insisted the federal government should approach the Supreme Court to establish who has jurisdiction over B.C.’s environment and pipelines, but Ottawa said it was unnecessary as it had already been established that the federal government has jurisdiction in such matters.
The B.C. PM said after the meeting that he hadn’t changed his stance on Trans Mountain, centering on a fear from oil spills. Alberta, meanwhile, is just as set on making the project happen as its neighbor is on stopping it. Last week, PM Rachel Notley said the oil-rich province was ready to buy the Trans Mountain expansion if Kinder Morgan decided to drop it.
The most radical way in which Ottawa can interfere to make sure the project goes ahead is evoking emergency powers, Reuters notes in a recent report on the topic. However, the Liberals would be wary of going that far as this would cost them votes in next year’s elections.
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.