Ottawa plans to make Trans Mountain decision by June 18
The federal government will make a final decision on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project on June 18.
"The government has consistently said that a decision would only be made on the project once we are satisfied that the duty to consult has been met. Through this process, Indigenous groups have told us that more time is needed," Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi wrote in a statement Thursday.
"The government of Canada remains steadfast in its commitment to do things differently on [the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion], moving the process forward in the right way and following the guidance of the Federal Court of Appeal. This means ensuring that consultations are not only meaningful, but also open and transparent."
As of last week, Sohi had not said when the government would announce whether it will re-approve the project or not.
The Liberal government, which purchased the project for billions of dollars, hit a roadblock last summer when the Federal Court's decision quashed its initial cabinet approval of the expanded pipeline. It forced Ottawa to start over on Indigenous consultation and marine-related environmental assessment, two key issues.
Since then, the government has launched renewed consultations with Indigenous groups about their potential participation in the proposed Trans Mountain expansion project.
In February, the National Energy Board (NEB) reiterated its approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion with 16 new recommendations designed to better protect marine life on the B.C. coast, where the line ends.
That gave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet 90 days to respond to the NEB report. They can either approve it or kill the taxpayer-owned project outright.
That is now being extended until mid-June.
"Our goal is to make a decision at the end of this period," said Sohi.
The 1,150-kilometre expansion project between Alberta's oilpatch and coastal B.C. would nearly triple the existing pipeline's capacity to 890,000 barrels a day. Tanker traffic from the Westridge Marine Terminal would increase from about five vessels a month to one a day.