(The existing Trans Mountain pipeline crosses a river in Chilliwack, B.C., near Cheam First Nation. Lucy Scholey/APTN)
Federal MPs on the natural resources committee will meet this afternoon for an emergency session to discuss last week’s game-changing court decision to tear up federal approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
The meeting comes at the request of the three Conservatives and one New Democrat MP who sit on the committee.
A federal court last week ruled consultation with Indigenous communities was not robust enough for the approval to be valid.
The court also said the National Energy Board hadn’t properly considered the impact of an increase in oil tanker traffic off the coast of British Columbia that will result from an expanded pipeline.
The same day, Kinder Morgan shareholders voted to approve the sale of the existing pipeline and other assets to the federal government for $4.5 billion.
Conservative natural resources critic Shannon Stubbs says the government needs to explain whether it took into account the risk this court decision would come down as it did when deciding the only way to get the pipeline built in the presence of investor jitters was to nationalize it.
“It is a crucial question,” Stubbs said Monday afternoon, as she got off a plane to Ottawa to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
She is hoping the committee will issue calls for both Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi and Finance Minister Bill Morneau to appear before it to explain how everything went so wrong and what their plan is now to fix it, but it’s unlikely any of those questions will be answered Tuesday.
It’s not clear yet whether Canada intends to appeal the decision or will instead endeavour to complete the consultations and considerations the court said were lacking.
The Trans Mountain pipeline carries crude oil and some refined products between Alberta and the B.C. coast. Kinder Morgan applied to build a second pipeline parallel to the first that will triple the capacity, and Canada’s hope is much of that oil would end up in Asian markets.
Canada’s reliance on the United States for its oil exports decreases the price Canada can get for its oil, an amount Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself says amounts to a $15 billion loss each year.
Ninety-nine per cent of Canada’s oil exports go to the United States.