Despite ongoing concerns raised by First Nations, the Trudeau government says it's "on track" to conclude its review and make a decision on the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Canadian Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi made the comments after concluding his participation at the annual CERAWeek energy conference, a major industry gathering in the Texan oil capital of Houston.

The government was forced to return to talks after a federal appeal court in August found it had failed in its legal duty to consult First Nations and did not consider all the evidence when approving the project while it was still owned by Houston-based energy giant Kinder Morgan.

Last year, Sohi's predecessor, Jim Carr, and his chief of staff Zoe Caron met with officials from Texas energy giant Kinder Morgan at the previous CERAWeek conference, kicking off negotiations that later resulted in Ottawa buying the existing Trans Mountain pipeline system and the rights to build the expansion for $4.5 billion.

The deal, finalized at the end of the summer of 2018, means that Ottawa must navigate both as owner and regulator of the pipeline expansion project.

Sohi said an enlarged team of officials under the direction of retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci had met with more than 100 Indigenous communities since the ruling and that the work is “proceeding as planned.”

“There are a wide range of issues that communities have identified," he said, including the effect of the development on their cultural practices; its impact on the land, water, fish, and other food sources; and the effect of potential spills and adequate response times.

Sohi said the government would “continue to make every effort to resolve those issues,” and that if it cannot offer suitable accommodations, it will make it very clear why it was not possible.

“We are in a good position, or strong position, to conclude consultations within the 90 days issuance of the NEB’s report,” he said.

Canada's energy minister, @SohiAmarjeet, says enlarged team of officials under direction of retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci had met more than 100 Indigenous communities since ruling and thatwork is “proceeding as planned.”

Some First Nations leaders have criticized the government's new round of consultations, with one even calling for Iacobucci, also a legal counsel representing Quebec engineering company SNC-Lavalin, to resign.

The Calgary-based National Energy Board, an arms-length regulator, said in February it found the proposed project "justified" to find more oil markets and to create jobs, despite likely "significant" adverse environmental impacts on Southern resident killer whales, on Indigenous cultural use related to the whales and on greenhouse gas emissions.

This came months after the court ruling in August found that the NEB made a "critical error" when it decided not to include tanker traffic as part of its initial review.

Sohi said Iacobucci had been brought in specifically to ensure the criticisms of Justice Eleanor Dawson, who authored the Federal Court of Appeal decision, were answered the second time around and that government representatives would be careful not to repeat the mistakes Ottawa made in the first process.

Justice Dawson called previous federal consultants glorified "note-takers" who recorded concerns without acting.

Sohi said cabinet will ultimately make a decision on the project — which would triple the amount of oil and other petroleum products that can be sent from producers in Alberta's oilsands to an expanded terminal in metro Vancouver, British Columbia — "only once satisfied its obligation to consult has been met."

The expansion would allow Alberta’s oilpatch to transport much more product to coastal B.C., where it would then be shipped to markets in Asia, with tanker traffic from the Westridge Marine Terminal expected to increase from about five vessels a month to one a day.

Some First Nations representatives and environmental groups have pledged to continue fighting the pipeline and vowed it would never be built.

Sohi said he also told U.S. industry executives and government officials at the conference that Alberta’s oilsands sector is a good place to invest in fossil fuel extraction and that Canada is committing to getting more pipelines built.

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“It is worse, much worse, than you think. The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says it isn’t happening at all, and comes to us bundled with several others in an anthology of comforting delusions: that global warming is an Arctic saga, unfolding remotely; that it is strictly a matter of sea level and coastlines, not an enveloping crisis sparing no place and leaving no life undeformed; that it is a crisis of the “natural” world, not the human one; that those two are distinct, and that we live today somehow outside or beyond or at the very least defended against nature, not inescapably within and literally overwhelmed by it; that wealth can be a shield against the ravages of warming; that the burning of fossil fuels is the price of continued economic growth; that growth, and the technology it produces, will allow us to engineer our way out of environmental disaster; that there is any analogue to the scale or threat, in the long span of human history, that might give us confidence in staring it down.

None of this is true."

This is on track too.

From The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace Wells.

Sohi, if the government "cannot offer suitable accomodations" as you say, perhaps the pipeline expansion should be cancelled. After all, it is your duty to accomodate our indigenous peoples. And why do you refer to "suitable" accomodations? Does this mean that the accomodations that the federal government is actually offering are unsuitable? Sounds like a big mess to me, something once again reversible by an appellate court. How many years, how many reversals, will it take for you to realize that this project is DEAD, that this expansion is not in the national (or international) interest. It is only in the interest of Alberta and the Liberal government.

Alberta employs people from across Canada, so I would say it is in the national interest. Fossil fuel consumption is increasing globally, if we don't supply it then someone else will. I live and work in Alberta and see first hand how tough it is, people are losing their homes. I'm tired of opinions stating the oil and gas industry should just go away without taking into account the thousands of people it will affect, not to mention none of you are actually coming forward with any real solutions. I agree that we need to do something to reduce greenhouse gases and be more responsible, but I think we can do that along with providing fossil fuel to markets.

Hello Jayson,
Of course you and many other Albertans are worried about your futures when the fossil fuel industry eventually 'dies'.
I find it very interesting that even the Industry is not really worried about your jobs as it is de-manning fossil fuel extraction as fast as it possibly can! The extraction of bitumen is being shifted to larger and larger 'haulers' and the companies are expecting to eliminate many 1000's of jobs, over and above the 1000's they have already eliminated.
Are they speaking for YOU? Are they planning to hire the unemployed or soon-to-be unemployed Fossil fuel workers to clean up the mess of abandoned wells and the landscape they have despoiled? No, not really. Yet there would be many thousands of jobs if they did.
The companies just want to keep digging bitumen out of the ground as fast as possible, to ship as much as possible by pipeline or train and to continue to receive subsidies from the Federal and Alberta governments until the Industry finally crashes, which it will!
The banks and the Insurance Industry are worried about the risks involved, both from the costs due to continuing extreme weather events and an (ultimate) collapse in the FF Industry due to the rapidly increasing decarbonization of energy.
Many of you know this is happening and it must be very scary! Why is it that Minister McKenna is working on a plan for coal workers who will be displaced, but not for Gas and Oil workers?
All of us are facing a Climate Emergency and some of us are working to rapidly decarbonize the economy, some of us are pressing governments to support a gradual, managed decline in extraction of fossil fuels in order to try to meet our Paris goals. Most of us who are writing letters, signing petitions for Climate Action, and on the streets are also pressing governments for a "Just Transition".
We know there is a difference between the Industry and the workers who are being displaced.
Displaced workers deserve a decent transition and a decent pension if a transition is not appropriate for you.
The Industry is not in this for your jobs, but for theirs and the profits.
We are working in solidarity with you to receive better than to be thrown on the slag heap!

I work in conventional oil which is very different from the oil sands, but we are also feeling the pinch. Don't just assume I am defending large oil companies, I'm not stupid, I realize corporations are only interested in their bottom line. It just happens that their bottom line coincides with my employment. You can throw all the stats out you like, the fact remains that there is still demand for fossil fuels globally, and Alberta provides it. We don't run our product in ditches or half hazardly extract while throwing safety out the window. This isn't just about pipelines, it's about an entire province and citizens being dragged through the mud by people who quite possibly have never even stepped foot in Alberta.

Can't imagine living in Alberta: cancer, no boreal forest, extinctions ... I forgot to mention extreme forest fires and tainted water. All in favour of profits to the oil industry and dividends to the 1%. And that's what you claim is in the national interest? Get it straight Jason, your job is not in the national or international interest. Maybe you should hop on a spacecraft to Mars and do your nasty work there.

All I can do is laugh at your comments Geoff Smith. I am not part of the 1% and I didn't say my job is of national interest, but I believe tens of thousands would be. And I have a feeling you use fossil fuels on a daily basis, that would be like me protesting Nike while wearing a Nike tee shirt. Quit being a hypocrite, Canada uses our product everyday, if the industry suddenly went away it would be felt by millions, including you.

Forgot to mention Alberta has one of the lowest cancer rates in Canada, lush forests, clean rivers fed by the mountains, around the same amount of wildfires as some provinces and much less than others. Not sure what extinctions you're refering too though....... odd comment.

Big Oil's "plan to fail" on climate is on track, thanks to Notley's and Trudeau's heroic efforts to defy science. Canada is on track to miss its inadequate emission targets by a wide margin.
Confused priorities?

From the article: "The expansion would allow Alberta’s oilpatch to transport much more product to coastal B.C., where it would then be shipped to markets in Asia, with tanker traffic from the Westridge Marine Terminal expected to increase from about five vessels a month to one a day."

This standard narrative is hotly disputed:
1) In its NEB submission, Kinder Morgan claimed that an average of 5 tankers a month load at the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby. The NEB accepted KM's claim at face value — but there has not been an an average of 5 tankers a month since 2010. Tanker loadings in 2016 averaged 1.25 a month — 15 tankers for the entire year.
Robyn Allan: "Canada can win by saying 'yes' to B.C.'s sustainable future" (Aug 21st 2017)

A93939 Robyn Allan - Material Errors in the Trans Mountain Expansion Report 2016 (08-Sep-2018)
"Westridge Marine Terminal (WMT) did not typically load five tankers per month—it was half that number.
During the period of the NEB review, Westridge typically loaded two and a half tankers a month. For the five year period 2013 - 2017, Westridge typically loaded two tankers a month. For the five years prior to Trans Mountain filing its application, Westridge did not typically load five tankers a month.

From around 30 tankers a year to 408 implies a nearly fourteen-fold increase in tanker traffic. Not including tug escorts.

2) The most likely destination for the bulk of crude transported via the Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline (TMX) is California, not Asia.

"Canada dreams of sending its oil to Asia via Trans Mountain, but most if it will end up in California" (Reuters)

"The largest-sized oil tanker that can dock in Vancouver is an Aframax, which can carry 500,000 to 700,000 barrels. Vessels at the port can only be loaded up to 80% capacity DUE TO DEPTH AND OTHER RESTRICTIONS, meaning a vessel can only be filled to around 550,000 barrels.
"That's a stark contrast to the one million barrel Suezmaxes, or the 2 million barrel very large crude carriers (VLCCs) commonly found in Iraq or Singapore.
"As long as the port can only take Aframaxes, it will remain largely uneconomical for exports to head to Asia, said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData LLC, which tracks vessel movements.

"California, not Asia, will be the most attractive market for Albertan heavy crude following KM’s Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion (TMX) from 300,000 b/d to 890,000 b/d. Lacking a deep water port, TMX’s Burnaby terminal on the British Columbian coast cannot handle carriers larger than an Afromax, making shipping costs less competitive than those of Middle Eastern sellers."
"California is a better market for Trans Mountain-transported crude than Asia" (Alberta Oil Magazine)

From 2015 thru 2017, the USA accounted for 87.63%, 99.99%, and 99.99547% of total crude petroleum exports from PMV. China accounted for 12.37%, 0.00%, and 0.00453%. India didn't make the list at all.

In 2017, "approximately 1% of crude oil exports went to countries other than the U.S." (NEB)
Check out the graph at the bottom of this article: "Charts: Canadian oil exports reached record highs at the end of 2016". (Note the blue line at the bottom.)

"Most vessels that currently load in Vancouver go to refineries in Washington State, California or Hawaii, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon shipping data." (Reuters)

"Canada exported 3.08 million barrels per day to the U.S. in 2016, 99% of all Canadian crude oil and equivalent exports." (NRCan)

"The Myth of The Asian Market for Alberta’s Oil" (The Narwhal)

"Canada’s Acquisition of Kinder Morgan Pipeline is Based on False Assumptions of Chinese Demand"

Notley and Trudeau have provided not a jot of evidence that Asian refiners are willing to pay more than U.S. Gulf Coast refineries do for AB dilbit.

"On track" means previously decided. Another federal government scam that is NOT independent, NOT impartial, that is biased and predisposed for the oil industry. Don't listen to these shenanigans, don't accept. I'm waiting for our esteemed Mike de Souza to obtain access to information that will confirm again the inability of our governments to honestly respond to climate deniers, the oil industry and provincial governments.