Montreal, February 22, 2019 – The MEI salutes the National Energy Board’s decision to recommend that the federal government move forward with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. Nonetheless, this saga is far from over, and shows once again that Canada’s energy project approval process remains burdensome and inefficient.
“It takes forever to get an energy infrastructure project approved in this country. It makes no sense!” says Germain Belzile, Senior Associate Researcher at the MEI. “The NEB gave its approval today, but we’re still far from the actual expansion of the pipeline. The Minister of Natural Resources set up a new consultation phase in order to satisfy the requirements of the Appeals Court, and no date has been determined for when these will end.”
Moreover, the NEB added 16 new recommendations to the 156 conditions already imposed.
It is important to remember that the government has already sunk $4.5 billion in public funds into a private project that had initially obtained all the necessary authorisations and won 16 legal battles, one after another. First Nations had also been consulted; indeed, numerous aboriginal communities are in favour of the project.
“Today, Canadians are the owners of a pipeline for which Ottawa paid a high price, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, and whose cost could increase further due to the extension of delivery times,” notes Mr. Belzile.
The Trans Mountain project, which should triple the existing pipeline’s capacity in order to transport up to 900,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to the port of Burnaby, British Columbia, aims to open up new export markets for Canadian oil resources.
“This kind of saga can only continue to push investors to flee to the United States, where the regulatory environment is much more welcoming,” adds Michel Kelly-Gagnon, President and CEO of the MEI. “Not only is the approval process very long and onerous in Canada, but companies can’t even trust it. Meanwhile, the Canadian economy continues to pay the price.”
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The MEI is an independent public policy think tank. Through its publications and media appearances, the MEI stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing reforms based on market principles and entrepreneurship.
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