February 21, 2018, Opinion piece published in the Edmonton Journal.
Our government approved the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion project because we know we can – and must – grow the economy and protect the environment at the same time.
We stand firmly behind that decision, and our government continues to be a champion of Canada’s energy sector. We deliver the same message in Vancouver, in Calgary, in Ottawa, or in St. John’s: this project has been approved by the federal government and we are committed to seeing it built.
We understand that, to overcome the price discount Canadian crude currently faces, we must get our resources to global markets and diversify beyond the United States – the destination for 99 per cent of our oil exports. Thousands of jobs for middle-class families hang in the balance, and our international reputation as a good place to invest is on the line.
But we also understand that, in the 21st century, getting our resources to market requires more sustainable practices, and it means working in partnership with Indigenous peoples and the communities who could be affected by resource development. We cannot afford to take a short-sighted approach that ignores how resource extraction and consumption contribute to a changing climate that puts Canada’s communities and competitiveness at risk.
Expectations around the world are changing and we must change with them. That’s why we worked with the provinces and territories – building on real leadership from Alberta and British Columbia – to develop Canada’s first national plan for clean growth and climate action. In fact, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s work to establish a credible climate plan (which accounts for emissions from oil and gas development and puts a price on carbon pollution) provides assurance that the Kinder Morgan pipeline is compatible with our overall efforts to fight climate change.
The top companies operating across the country already recognize that strong environmental performance and corporate social responsibility are key to their competitiveness. Our government’s approach to regulating projects, reducing carbon pollution, and encouraging clean innovation aims to build on their example and set a high bar for all resource development.
Simply put, any natural resource development needs to demonstrate how it will fit within our national climate and clean growth plan – because meeting our climate targets is non-negotiable. Our interim principles for environmental reviews, as well as our proposed changes to the impact assessment system, are designed to restore confidence that good projects will move forward in a more predictable, timely, and transparent process that not only protects our environment and respects Indigenous rights, but provides the certainty that businesses need.
Recently, the B.C. government announced it would consult on restricting oil exports from its coast due to a perceived lack of oceans protection.
Our oceans are valued by – and are essential to – all Canadians. We share British Columbians’ concerns about safeguarding our coast. In 2016, our government launched a world-leading Oceans Protection Plan, committing $1.5 billion to better care for our coasts and oceans, including the largest investment in years in the Canadian Coast Guard and our emergency response capacity.
If the B.C. government wants to explore how it can further support these efforts to protect our waters and coastal communities, we welcome that.
But let us be clear: the federal government will not allow any province to infringe on federal jurisdiction over making decisions about resource development in the national interest. The impacts and benefits of the Trans Mountain expansion project reach beyond the borders of any single province. It stands to benefit Canadians across the country, just as the existing Trans Mountain pipeline has done since 1953.
No one wins if we approach resource development as a trade-off between the environment and the economy. Canadians learned that lesson the hard way under the Harper government. That’s why we’re taking a new approach that provides more certainty, better protects our climate, oceans, and the environment, and makes it possible to get our resources to market through safe and sustainable practices.
Our government will continue working with every province and territory to build a stronger economy and a more sustainable resource sector – because that’s what Canadians expect and deserve.
Jim Carr is federal minister of Natural Resources. Catherine McKenna is the federal minister of Environment and Climate Change.