OTTAWA – The Canadian government said on Tuesday that it will buy a pipeline that is at the center of widespread protests from environmentalists and some indigenous groups, putting the government directly on the side of the country's oil industry.
The $ 4.5 billion purchase ensures that the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which transports oil from Alberta to a port in a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, this summer begins a planned expansion.
The pipeline is a focal point for a wider debate in Canada about the environmental impact of the oil sump tapping in Alberta, which critics consider a particularly polluting source of energy. Similar objections fueled efforts to block the Alberta Keystone XL pipeline to the United States.
The oil industry and the province of Alberta argue that the expanded pipeline would create needed jobs and help the economy while the province was British Columbia (1
The decision to buy the pipeline could be the biggest test of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's claim that his government balances energy needs with environmental concerns such as climate change. It is likely that Mr Trudeau's relationships with environmental groups are deteriorating.
Aurore Fauret, the Canadian tar sands campaign coordinator of the Environmental Group 350.org, said in a statement that Kinder Morgan was the current owner of the pipeline, "this project had been abandoned because people have been organizing all over the country, to stop it, and we will do it again. "
Mr. Trudeau, she said, "had the opportunity to move away from pipeline politics and continue with the real work of leading Canada and the world in a 100 percent Renewable Energy Revolution, instead choosing science, the indigenous rights and the US ignore the voices of people across Canada and spit out a dangerous, unwanted pipeline with public funds. "
Since taking power in 2015, Mr. Trudeau has implemented several climate change mitigation measures, including a nationwide CO2 tariff plan. But he also claims that the economic well-being of Canada depends on having an energetic energy industry.
Children's Morgan, based in Houston, had planned to pipeline a second pipeline of 980 kilometers, or 110 miles, of the 1,150-kilometer Trans Mountain Pipeline, which opened in 1953 and remains the only oil pipeline on Canada's Pacific coast.
If the $ 7.4 billion project were built, it would increase the system's capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels a day.
The Trans Mountain Plan could be its last state of the energy industry. An earlier plan to merge the oil sands with the British Columbia coast was abandoned, as was a planned pipeline to eastern Canada.
The vast majority of oil sands production, as well as Canadian oil in general, is exported to the United States, with most of it for American ports tankers. Proponents of the pipeline expansion argue that Canada would tap Asia as the second market for its oil.
As with the hotly contested Keystone XL pipeline, a plan was planned to connect the oil sands to the Gulf Coast of the United States Many environmentalists in the United States hope that stopping Trans Mountain will result in future production of the oil sands, which they consider a particularly dirty source consider, brake or even reduce fossil fuels.
Elizabeth May, chair of the Canadian Green Party, described the project "The climate crisis is the existential threat to our society, our country, our children, our civilization," she said Monday outside a Vancouver courthouse after she joined the Guilty guilty complained of protests against Trans Mountain in March.
The strongest is the promotion in Alberta, a province that relies on high-paying jobs and billions of dollars on the energy industry to urce royalty on their budget. But the pipeline faces strong opposition in British Columbia, especially in the Vancouver area.
The Pipeline Plan has already begun a war of words, lawsuits and legislation between the two provinces, although for the first time in Canada Both parties are ruled by the New Democratic Party, the most leftist party in Canada's political Mainstream.
John Horgan, the Prime Minister of British Columbia, has asked a court to decide if the province will decide on the pipeline extension if the court says yes. But the federal government invokes earlier court decisions, including some from the Canadian Supreme Court, claiming that it has sole authority over pipelines between provinces.
Mr. Horgan's opposition seems to be at least partially rooted in political calculations. His government needs the support of three Green Party members of British Columbia to stay in power. Like their national counterparts, the provincial Greens are stubbornly opposed to the trans-mountain pipeline.
The provincial opposition led Morgan to suspend negligible spending on Trans Mountain last month. Citing uncertainty among investors, it also said it would give up the expansion plan if British Columbia did not stop its attempts to block Thursday this Thursday.
Rachel Notley, whose government ended four and a half decades of conservative control in Alberta three years ago, has fired Mr. Horgan. She temporarily ceased British Columbia imports of wine and issued a law this month that allowed her government to suspend oil and gas supplies to her neighbors, which British Columbia had challenged in court.
"It's very interesting," said Mrs. Notley at a press conference. "On the one hand, they do not want our oil, and on the other, they're suing us for giving them our oil."
Last weekend, Miss Notley boycotted a Western Canada premieres meeting to protest British Columbia actions
Polls indicate that Canadians are split over the pipeline and the austerity plan altogether. The expansion has support in some parts of British Columbia, outside the Vancouver area, which rely on mine and forestry jobs.
But the opposition is strong in and around Vancouver, partly because of fears over possible spills from increased oil tanker traffic. On Sunday, near Kamloops, British Columbia, there was a small leak in the Trans Mountain pipeline that spilled around 100 liters of oil into a pumping station.
Indigenous groups played a prominent role in the anti-pipeline protests
The finance minister said the government would eventually sell the pipeline in its expanded form to the private sector.
Follow Ian Austen on Twitter: @ianrausten.