Pipeline buyout will haunt Trudeau government; real costs, risks of project remain hidden

Today's announcement leaves Canadian taxpayers on the hook for construction costs, any delays to the project

Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — Today’s announcement by the federal government of a buyout for the failing Kinder Morgan pipeline and expansion project hides the real costs and risks of the purchase — and leaves Canadian taxpayers on the hook for the cost of construction and any delays to the project. The project still faces immense opposition from BC municipalities, First Nations, additional legal challenges, and ongoing public protests.

The stated $4.5B buyout cost doesn’t include Kinder Morgan’s previously documented $7.4B for construction costs, or the significant potential for costs related to construction delays. The real cost to taxpayers could easily top $12B.

“This decision will haunt the Trudeau government. Those of us who knocked on doors for him will not forget that he took billions of dollars from Canadian families to buy out an oil pipeline that violates Indigenous rights and our commitments on climate change. Thousands of people have committed to stand with Indigenous leaders to stop this pipeline. All hell is about to break loose in British Columbia.” —Tzeporah Berman, Deputy Director, Stand.earth

The buyout comes despite the federal government’s campaign pledge to end an existing $3.3B in oil and gas industry subsidies. This buyout also stands in stark contrast to several priorities in the federal government’s 2018-2023 budget, including: $4.7B for reconciliation with First Nations, $2.6B for environmental protections, and $1.3B for an ocean protection plan.

“Since a strong majority of Canadians — and both federal opposition parties — are opposed to the purchase of this pipeline, this boondoggle could threaten the reelection of Trudeau’s Liberal government. What really happened today is that the government admitted no one in the private sector wanted to buy this failing project, and now they’re left covering their political asses by buying it themselves — all on the taxpayer’s dime.” —Karen Mahon, Strategy Director, Stand.earth

Opposition remains strong 

Despite today’s announcement, the pipeline still faces immense opposition — from 22 BC municipalities, 150 First Nations who have joined the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, 17 additional legal challenges, and ongoing public protests. More than 250,000 petition signers and 24,000 people have pledged to do “whatever it takes” to stop Kinder Morgan, and over 200 people have been arrested in the past few months alone for opposing the pipeline.

“The federal government can plan to bail out Kinder Morgan however it wants — but today’s announcement doesn’t change a thing for the thousands of people who stand with First Nations in stopping this pipeline. The opposition remains steadfast and protests will continue — we will not let Prime Minister Justin Trudeau build this pipeline.” —Sven Biggs, Climate Campaigner, Stand.earth

The most significant legal challenge comes from First Nations on the federal approval of the project. The ruling in a similar case brought down Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline. A ruling from the Federal Court of Appeals is expected in the coming months.

Media contacts: 

Virginia Cleaveland, Press Secretary, virginia@stand.earth, 778-984-3994
Tzeporah Berman, Deputy Director, tzeporah@stand.earth,  604-313-4713