Natural Resource Minister Jim Carr is adamant that Kinder Morgan’s (KML.TO) Trans Mountain pipeline project is of “national interest,” standing by the government’s decision to support it.
“We’re confident that this is a pipeline that needed to be approved by the government of Canada,” Carr told BNN in an interview Tuesday. “We believe the indigenous consultation was accommodating and meaningful.”
“We’ve determined the national interest,” he added. “We stand by that judgement.”
However, the project has come under scrutiny by environmental and indigenous groups who say the National Energy Board neglected to consider several environmental issues in its review process, and are now fighting the decision in court.
A judicial review of Trans Mountain got underway at the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver Monday, where a number of parties, including the B.C. government and aboriginal groups, will present their case in an effort to overturn Ottawa’s approval of the expansion. The $7.4 billion expansion is expected to create thousands of jobs, mostly in British Columbia and Alberta, and would nearly triple the capacity of existing pipelines from Alberta to B.C.’s west coast.
When it comes to another controversial pipeline project, TransCanada’s (TRP.TO) Energy East, Carr says he’d have to wait until the regulatory assessment is complete before saying with certainty whether that project is also of national interest.
The National Energy Board last month granted TransCanada a 30-day suspension of its application in order to conduct a “careful review” of the pipeline’s viability.
If built, the project would carry 1.1. million barrels of crude from Alberta to Saint John per day.
The uncertainty around the pipeline projects has Canada’s energy industry looking for stability, says Martin King, director of institutional research at GMP FirstEnergy.
He told BNN in an interview Tuesday, if given the chance, he would ask Carr or Prime Minister Trudeau for more clarity about where the regulations are going.
“It’d be nice just to have clarity and kind of what is the fixed point that [they’re] aiming towards,” King said. “And I think that’s what the industry needs is just some degree of certainty in terms of the regulations.”
Providing predictability and stability to the country’s energy industry is a priority for the Liberal government, Carr assures.
“We want to give [the energy industry] certainty,” he said. “And I think that predictability and timelines that can be counted on are very important values…We will make sure that in the long-term reform of environmental assessment, predictability and certainty is a very important message will we send to the industry.”