(ANNews) – Controversy is mounting over the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, with a jurisdictional battle heating up between the BC and Alberta governments and the federal government insisting that the pipeline will be built.
Earlier this month, Kinder Morgan Inc. suspended “non-essential” work and spending on the pipeline, citing uncertainty about the project’s future.
On April 9, in response to Kinder Morgan’s announcement, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley stated, “Albertans have been clear – get this pipeline built. And Albertans are right – this pipeline must be built. Tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to the economy depend upon it. So do better schools and hospitals.
“Kinder Morgan has put a deadline of May 31 in place and I regret that the company is frustrated by not knowing on how many more legal fronts it will need to fight. We have won a series of important and decisive legal victories. The courts threw out B.C.’s last case without even hearing it. And I am confident we will continue to win.
“Federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr has called on the Government of British Columbia to suspend all threats of delay to the Trans Mountain expansion. Those are strong words, but we need more. We are calling on the federal government to act in the defence of Alberta and working people in Western Canada.
“As well, I have two things to say to British Columbia. First, Premier Horgan believes he can harass this project without economic consequences for his province. He is wrong. We will be bringing forward legislation in coming days giving our government the powers it needs to impose serious economic consequences on B.C. if its government continues on its present course.
“Second, Premier Horgan believes he can harass the investors and managers of Kinder Morgan, that they will give up, and that this will kill this project. He is wrong here as well.”
“Alberta is prepared to do whatever it takes to get this pipeline built – including taking a public position in the pipeline. Alberta is prepared to be an investor in the pipeline. If we take that step, we will be a significantly more determined investor.
“This pipeline will be built.”
Meanwhile, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is pleased with Kinder Morgan’s announcement. He stated, “Trudeau and Notley continue to brazenly and arrogantly ignore First Nations rights, an oversight that will limit any ability to address risk and uncertainty for this ill-conceived project. Making unilateral decisions about projects on unceded Indigenous territories is the exact opposite of reconciliation. We confirm that our opposition is resolute, and we fully intend to stop this massively destructive pipeline from being built.”
Alberta politicians note that many First Nations along the route have signed on with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in exchange for social and economic benefits for their communities. However, according to the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), 140 Nations along Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline route were consulted and only 43 have agreements with Kinder Morgan.
“Kinder Morgan needs the consent of all First Nations along the pipeline route — and they do not have it. Bailing out Kinder Morgan so they can trample Indigenous Title and Rights makes a mockery of the Canadian pledge to respect the rights of Indigenous peoples,” said UBCIC Vice President Chief Bob Chamberlin.
“Rachel Notley’s increasingly wild threats to get the Kinder Morgan TMX pipeline rammed through are completely devoid of any acknowledgement that the project cannot happen without Indigenous consent,” continued Chief Chamberlin. “Even if Alberta becomes a shareholder in Kinder Morgan, that pipeline is simply not going through Indigenous territory without the ‘free, prior and informed consent’ of the Indigenous peoples impacted, as provided in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
The UBCIC states that current opposition to Kinder Morgan’s pipeline and tanker project includes the Province of British Columbia, the state of Washington, the cities of Vancouver, Burnaby, and Victoria and 19 other BC municipalities as well as 250,000 petition signers and more than 23,000 who have pledged to do “whatever it takes” to stop the pipeline and tanker project.
On the other hand, The Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC) is deeply concerned for the future of investment in Canada when a provincial government can purposely interfere and delay a federally approved project that has been deemed in the national interest. “Have we reached the point where we cannot say we are a country that respects the rule of law?” asks PSAC President & CEO, Tom Whalen
Already capital investment has been fleeing Canada due to competitive issues and lack of access to tidewater for our natural resources. “How do we incent investment in our country when federally approved projects cannot move forward?” asks Scott Van Vliet, PSAC Chair and CEO of Environmental Refuelling Systems Inc.
PSAC is calling on the Government of Canada to take a leadership role to resolve this urgent situation now. “Allowing the situation to deteriorate further through inter-provincial trade wars will only create more hardship on families and businesses and further erode our international reputation.”
PSAC cites, “Over two years of rigorous research and studies were conducted by the National Energy Board, the Canadian Energy Assessment Agency and the BC Environmental Assessment Office before approving this project. Indigenous peoples are counting on the project to improve their lives through economic benefits, jobs and training. Canadians across the country including British Columbians, are depending on the jobs that will be created by this project.
“The oil and gas industry supports over 600,000 jobs across the country – jobs that are at risk when governments do not uphold the rule of law and allow political parties to destroy investor confidence. We hope that British Columbians, the majority of whom support this pipeline expansion, will make their voices heard to Premier Horgan, sending a clear message to stop the blockade of this vital project – this pipeline must be built.”