Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Trudeau Government Approves Trans Mountain Expansion a Day After Canada Declares Climate Emergency

Politics
Trudeau Government Approves Trans Mountain Expansion a Day After Canada Declares Climate Emergency
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivering remarks to supporters at a Liberal Climate Action Rally in Toronto, Ontario on March 4. Arindam Shivaani / NurPhoto / Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that his government would once again approve the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would triple the amount of oil transported from Alberta's tar sands to the coast of British Columbia (BC).


The decision comes a day after Canada's House of Commons passed a non-binding resolution declaring a climate emergency, as CBC News reported. The timing prompted environmental activists to charge the Trudeau government with hypocrisy, since the House motion was proposed by the government.

"This is like declaring war on cancer and then announcing a campaign to promote smoking," Rainforest Action Network energy program director Patrick McCully told CBC News.

Trudeau's cabinet followed the ruling of the National Energy Board that the pipeline could harm the environment and marine life, but could create thousands of jobs and earn the federal government tens of billions of dollars. Trudeau pledged to invest all of that revenue in developing renewable energy.

"We need to create wealth today so we can invest in the future. We need resources to invest in Canadians so they can take advantage of the opportunities generated by a rapidly changing economy, here at home and around the world," Trudeau said.

However, pipeline opponents argued that the climate crisis was too urgent for the government to be investing in more fossil fuel infrastructure. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded in October of last year that greenhouse gas emissions must fall to 45 percent of 2010 levels by 2030 in order to limit global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

"The federal government has signed off on as much as an additional 15 million tonnes (approximately 16.5 million U.S. tons) of carbon. This is irresponsible at a time when Canada is drifting further away from meeting our Paris climate commitment, and inconsistent with the climate emergency that was declared only yesterday," Environmental Defence Executive Director Tim Gray told CBC News.

A senior government official told Reuters anonymously that the government expected legal challenges to the decision.

The government's 2016 approval of the project was blocked by a court decision in August 2018 ruling that it had failed to take into account the environmental costs of increased tanker traffic and had not adequately consulted with indigenous groups concerned about the project.

Trudeau's government, which bought the pipeline from Kinder Morgan in May of 2018, sent 60 consultants to meet again with indigenous communities along the pipeline's route, CBC News reported. Trudeau promised additional "accommodation measures" such as embracing an initiative to reduce the impact of tanker traffic on the endangered southern resident killer whales that live in the waters off BC.

However, the Squamish Nation told The Squamish Chief that the government's consultation had been "shallow."

"The failure to meaningfully engage with rights holders means this government is either not serious about building this pipeline or not serious about respecting Indigenous rights," nation spokesperson Khelsilem said.

Chief Leah George-Wilson of the Vancouver-area Tsleil-Waututh First Nation told CBC News that her community had decided to appeal the approval, and a group of BC indigenous activists called the Tiny House Warriors promised to continue fighting the project.

"The Trudeau government does not have the right to put a pipeline through unceded Secwepemc land," spokeswoman Kanahus Manuel said in a statement reported by Reuters.

However, other indigenous groups are interested in investing in the project.

Trudeau said construction would restart this year. If that proves to be the case, the pipeline would be operational by 2022, investment bank Tudor Pickering Holt & Co told Reuters. The expansion would enable the pipeline to move 890,000 barrels of oil per day.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Once the virus escapes into the air inside a building, you have two options: bring in fresh air from outside or remove the virus from the air inside the building. Halfpoint Images / Getty Images

By Shelly Miller

The vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs indoors, most of it from the inhalation of airborne particles that contain the coronavirus. The best way to prevent the virus from spreading in a home or business would be to simply keep infected people away. But this is hard to do when an estimated 40% of cases are asymptomatic and asymptomatic people can still spread the coronavirus to others.

Read More Show Less
California Senator Kamala Harris endorses Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at a campaign rally at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan on March 9, 2020. JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made a historic announcement Tuesday when he named California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in the 2020 presidential election.

Read More Show Less
An aerial view taken on August 8, 2020 shows a large patch of leaked oil from the MV Wakashio off the coast of Mauritius. STRINGER / AFP / Getty Images

The tiny island nation of Mauritius, known for its turquoise waters, vibrant corals and diverse ecosystem, is in the midst of an environmental catastrophe after a Japanese cargo ship struck a reef off the country's coast two weeks ago. That ship, which is still intact, has since leaked more than 1,000 metric tons of oil into the Indian Ocean. Now, a greater threat looms, as a growing crack in the ship's hull might cause the ship to split in two and release the rest of the ship's oil into the water, NPR reported.

On Friday, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency.

France has sent a military aircraft carrying pollution control equipment from the nearby island of Reunion to help mitigate the disaster. Additionally, Japan has sent a six-member team to assist as well, the BBC reported.

The teams are working to pump out the remaining oil from the ship, which was believed to be carrying 4,000 metric tons of fuel.

"We are expecting the worst," Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said on Monday, The Weather Channel reported. "The ship is showing really big, big cracks. We believe it will break into two at any time, at the maximum within two days. So much oil remains in the ship, so the disaster could become much worse. It's important to remove as much oil as possible. Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little, ton by ton."

Sunil Dowarkasing, a former strategist for Greenpeace International and former member of parliament in Mauritius, told CNN that the ship contains three oil tanks. The one that ruptured has stopped leaking oil, giving disaster crews time to use a tanker and salvage teams to remove oil from the other two tanks before the ship splits.

By the end of Tuesday, the crew had removed over 1,000 metric tons of oil from the ship, NPR reported, leaving about 1,800 metric tons of oil and diesel, according to the company that owns the ship. So far the frantic efforts are paying off. Earlier today, a local police chief told BBC that there were still 700 metric tons aboard the ship.

The oil spill has already killed marine animals and turned the turquoise water black. It's also threatening the long-term viability of the country's coral reefs, lagoons and shoreline, NBC News reported.

"We are starting to see dead fish. We are starting to see animals like crabs covered in oil, we are starting to see seabirds covered in oil, including some which could not be rescued," said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, according to The Weather Channel.

While the Mauritian authorities have asked residents to leave the clean-up to officials, locals have organized to help.

"People have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora," environmental activist Ashok Subron said in an AFP story.

Reuters reported that sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and human hair donated by locals are being sewn into makeshift booms.

Human hair absorbs oil, but not water, so scientists have long suggested it as a material to contain oil spills, Gizmodo reported. Mauritians are currently collecting as much human hair as possible to contribute to the booms, which consist of tubes and nets that float on the water to trap the oil.

A northern mockingbird on June 24, 2016. Renee Grayson / CC BY 2.0

Environmentalists and ornithologists found a friend in a federal court on Tuesday when a judge struck down a Trump administration attempt to allow polluters to kill birds without repercussions through rewriting the Migratory Treaty Bird Act (MBTA).

Read More Show Less
A spiny dogfish shark swims in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Washington. NOAA / Wikimedia Commons

By Elizabeth Claire Alberts

There are trillions of microplastics in the ocean — they bob on the surface, float through the water column, and accumulate in clusters on the seafloor. With plastic being so ubiquitous, it's inevitable that marine organisms, such as sharks, will ingest them.

Read More Show Less
A "vessel of opportunity" skims oil spilled after the Deepwater Horizon well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. NOAA / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Loveday Wright and Stuart Braun

After a Japanese-owned oil tanker struck a reef off Mauritius on July 25, a prolonged period of inaction is threatening to become an ecological disaster.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The Mountain Valley Pipeline proposes to carry natural gas for hundreds of miles over dozens of water sources, through protected areas and crossing the Appalachian Trail. Appalachian Trail Conservancy / YouTube

It's been a bad summer for fracked natural gas pipelines in North Carolina.

Read More Show Less