Ottawa Delays Decision On Trans Mountain Pipeline Until After Fall Election

Ottawa is delaying a decision on whether it will proceed with the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline project until after the federal election in October.

Federal Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said in Calgary Thursday that no decision on the pipeline that would carry Alberta oil to the British Columbia coast for shipment to Asia would be made until after the federal election is held this fall.

The latest delay comes just weeks after the federal government announced that it was pushing back the deadline on a decision to June 18 from May 22 on the recommendation of Indigenous communities that Ottawa is in the process of consulting.

The federal government purchased the controversial pipeline project from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion in 2018, and, earlier this year, the National Energy Board endorsed the pipeline expansion after a reconsideration of its effect on marine life off the B.C. coast.

The proposal to twin the existing Trans Mountain pipeline between Edmonton, Alberta and Burnaby, British Columbia was first approved by the federal government’s cabinet in 2016. The Federal Court of Appeal rescinded that decision in August 2018 because, it said, neither the environmental review nor the Indigenous consultations had been properly completed.

Sohi told reporters Thursday that he could not commit to any timelines regarding the Trans Mountain pipeline until after the autumn election. He added, though, that he is looking forward to working with incoming Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, whose United Conservative Party ousted former Premier Rachel Notley's NDP government in a provincial election last week.

Kenney has said that getting the Trans Mountain pipeline project up and running is the top priority for his incoming government.