Notley pulls out from climate plan

Notley pulls out from climate plan
Justin Trudeau determined to build Trans Mountain pipeline, tackle climate change despite court ruling
Alberta's decision to pull out of the national climate-change plan to protest a federal court ruling that quashed the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will only serve to further endanger the project's regulatory future, says the federal resources minister.

Edmonton MP Amarjeet Sohi said the courts have made it clear — an effective climate strategy is critical for the approval of major natural resources projects under federal jurisdiction.

At the heart of the centrist Trudeau’s plans for the economy and environment was a bargain with Alberta, Canada’s energy province. The Liberal government approval of Trans Mountain would provide Alberta oil producers with a larger export outlet to the British Columbia coast, and secure Alberta’s support of Trudeau’s national emissions plan.

Alberta less deep in the red – Canada News

Alberta's withdrawal from the national climate change strategy may hurt the pipeline in the long run, he said.  

Accomplishing that and approving Trans Mountain again before the next campaign would be challenging, at a time when the Liberals are separately legislating tougher regulations for resource projects, Masson said. Appealing to Canada’s Supreme Court may be faster, said Robin Junger, a lawyer at McMillan Vantage dealing with environmental and aboriginal issues.

"In order to build a large project such as a pipeline, you need to have a very effective climate action plan and you need to be mindful of your obligations to consult Indigenous peoples," Sohi said in an interview Friday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

We're not prepared to go any further on this until the federal government figures out how to get this ridiculousness fixed.- Rachel Notley, Alberta premier

Premier Rachel Notley has called on Ottawa to immediately take Thursday's Federal Court of Appeal ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada, and for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to call an emergency session of Parliament to fix the process so the pipeline can be built.

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – With one surprise court ruling, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces the risk of contesting next year’s election with key pieces of his economic and environmental plans in ruins.

The Alberta premier made the stunning announcement in a Thursday evening news conference, hours after the Court of Appeal effectively suspended the contentious Trans Mountain expansion.

The day’s events amplified criticism that Trudeau has failed to produce a regulatory system in which oil pipelines stand a chance of approval and undermined the PM’s ambitions to reduce emissions.

The appellate court cited lack of consultation with Indigenous nations and that the regulator, the National Energy Board, failed to address the impact on marine traffic.

“Now they run into double jeopardy politically because they have an issue of whether they can deliver. And it’s having a knock-on effect on other issues, like carbon pricing.”

She said her NDP government remains committed to environmental stewardship, but won't sign on to a national strategy if it isn't able to get the pipeline built and get a "fair value for our resources."

Trudeau could assemble a team to consult First Nations, and direct the NEB to produce a study of tanker traffic, said Richard Masson, executive fellow at the University of Calgary.

"We have said very clearly that responsible action on climate change must be paired with the kind of economic growth that makes sure that working people are able to prosper … you can't do one without the other," Notley said.

The party, which won a huge 2015 majority, is running close with the opposition Conservatives according to polls, and faces another risk in tough U.S. trade talks.

"We're not prepared to go any further on this until the federal government figures out how to get this ridiculousness fixed." 

In short, they left him vulnerable to bleeding disappointed supporters on both his right and left, said Paul Thomas, professor emeritus at University of Manitoba.

Notley said it's become "virtually impossible" for Alberta to build a pipeline to tidewater. 

"Our energy industry drives our national economy and it is utterly ridiculous that we can only sell it through the United States," she said. "It's just got to stop."

The premier said the court decision Thursday has no impact on Alberta's own climate change plan, or on the provincial carbon tax, but her declaration takes proposed federal carbon tax increases off the table. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley reacts to the Trans Mountain ruling in a news conference Thursday evening. 0:49

While Sohi said he empathizes with Notley's "frustration," her declaration ignores the increasing demands of the regulatory process.

Trudeau doubled down in May, agreeing to buy the faltering pipeline project for C$4.5 billion from Kinder Morgan Canada.

The Trans Mountain proposal is the second major pipeline expansion that has been quashed by the courts, and Sohi fears federal judges won't look kindly upon Alberta's withdrawal from the national climate plan. 

Buying a pipeline was always unpopular with progressive voters, said Nik Nanos, head of polling firm Nanos Research.

We can't go back to the old days of ignoring the environment.- Amarjeet  Sohi, federal resources minister

Such a scenario would weaken Trudeau in British Columbia and Quebec, potentially costing a second term, Nanos said.

Sohi blamed the federal Conservatives, under Stephen Harper, for creating a flawed regulatory system that fails to fully account for the duty to consult and environmental risks.

"The courts have been very clear," said Sohi. "This is the second ruling that we've had from the federal court where decisions have been overturned. 

"We can't go back to the old days of ignoring the environment or ignoring the consultations with Indigenous peoples. 

"That is not how pipelines will be built in the future, and we need to make sure that we're fixing the broken system that we inherited." 

Sohi said the federal government is reviewing the court decision and intends to push forward with the project.

"We cannot have a situation where we continue to rely on a single customer to whom we sell 99 per cent of our oil," he said  "As an Albertan, I feel frustrated that Alberta's oil is landlocked.

"We are attempting to diversify our markets and yes, we need to do it the right way, but the courts have given us a path forward and we are going to follow that path forward."

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday they were still moving forward with the Trans Mountain pipeline as it's in the best interest of Canadians and do so "in the right way."

Justin Trudeau says his government remains committed to getting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built and also to its national climate-change plan — both of which were put in jeopardy by a court ruling that overturned federal approval for the project.

The prime minister says the government will move forward to get the project built “in the right way” by acknowledging the court’s criticism of the flawed environmental review process and the failure to meaningfully consult with Indigenous Peoples.

Thursday’s court ruling prompted Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to announce that her province is withdrawing from the national climate change plan and will stay out until the federal government gets its act together, as she put it.

While he’d prefer to work collaboratively with provinces on climate change, Trudeau says Notley’s move doesn’t change anything for the federal government.

He says the federal government remains committed to imposing a carbon price on provinces that do not implement their own polluter-pay scheme — including Alberta if need be.

But he says Alberta’s own climate change plan remains in place, which means its carbon pricing regime will be in sync with the federal government’s for the next few years.