TORONTO, ON – Today’s federal cabinet decision on the Northern Gateway, Line 3 and Kinder Morgan pipeline projects is in part reason for celebration, but more so cause for concern. The cancellation of Northern Gateway validates the strong evidence concerning its potential impacts, while the approvals of Line 3 and Kinder Morgan create herculean challenges for Canada as it seeks to meet its Paris climate commitments.
The cancellation of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers proposal vindicates coastal communities, First Nations, and Canadians who spoke out against the project’s massive risks to our land, water and economy.
But the federal government has taken on two liabilities by approving Line 3 and Kinder Morgan. Together, these approvals facilitate production growth that approaches or exceeds the Alberta 100 megatonnes (MT) emission cap. There is sufficient pipeline capacity for all tar sands oil to be produced until the mid 2020s. Building these new export pipelines will lock in fossil fuel infrastructure in a world moving towards decarbonisation and when Canada needs to make steep emission cuts.
Together, Line 3 and Kinder Morgan will add over 1.1 million new barrels per day (bpd) of pipeline capacity to export tar sands oil. According to Environment and Climate Change Canada’s own numbers, this means an additional 23 to 28 MT of carbon pollution from the tar sands each year – the equivalent of putting 5.9 million cars on Canada’s roads.
Kinder Morgan would send an additional 590,000 bpd of tar sands oil to the B.C. coast and increase tankers plying Vancouver’s harbour by nearly-sevenfold. The increased tanker traffic puts the Salish Sea’s resident orca population at risk of extinction. The capacity of Line 3 to ship tar sands oil to the U.S. will expand from 390,000 bpd to ultimately 915,000 bpd. The 525,000 bpd increase for Line 3 is exactly the same as Northern Gateway’s proposed capacity.
The approvals raise grave doubts how these and additional pipelines, including Keystone XL and Energy East, can fit with Canada’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement and Alberta’s cap on tar sands emissions. Much bigger cuts in other emission sources must be made to compensate for more oil-based emissions, like making all buildings in Ontario emissions neutral. The federal government should respect Alberta’s cap on tar sands emissions by legally requiring that cumulative pipeline capacity cannot exceed the promised 100 MT emissions cap.
With its approvals, the federal government ignores legitimate concerns about First Nations consultation for energy projects. Prime Minister Trudeau’s promises of a new approach to Indigenous Reconciliation ring increasingly hollow.
The Line 3 and Kinder Morgan approvals come despite serious flaws in the National Energy Board’s pipeline review process. The rejection of Northern Gateway must be followed immediately by a legislated ban on oil tankers on B.C.’s North Coast and a reform of the pipeline review process. The Prime Minister must fulfill his pledge to fix the broken NEB, align energy policy with climate science, and fulfil the government’s commitment to Indigenous reconciliation.
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
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