Justin Trudeau’s ruling Liberals, as expected, approved the proposal to expand the crude oil pipeline Canada bought last year.
Construction on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is planned to start this year, the Prime Minister told a news conference. A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, earlier told Reuters Ottawa expected legal challenges against the approval.
The project would triple Trans Mountain’s capacity to carry 890,000 barrels per day from Alberta’s oil sands to British Columbia’s Pacific Coast, help alleviate congestion on existing pipelines, and diversify exports away from the United States.
Trudeau, who faces a close election scheduled for October, has been under pressure from both western Canadian politicians who accuse him of doing too little for the struggling oil industry.
“This isn’t an either/or proposition. It is in Canada’s national interest to protect our environment and invest in tomorrow, while making sure people can feed their families today,” he told Reuters, adding that he knew some people would be disappointed.
The Liberals previously approved the expansion in 2016 but that decision was overturned last year after a court ruled the government had not adequately consulted indigenous groups.