Can protestors still stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline?

Darfield

In an extraordinary development early Tuesday, the federal government announced it would buy the Trans Mountain pipeline system and its planned expansion project for C$4.5 billion ($3.5 billion) to ensure it gets built.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau reported on the eve that the authorities reached an agreement with Kinder Morgan, the construction company based in Texas, United States, to acquire all the infrastructure for about 4.5 billion dollars, although the text must still be approved by the shareholders and it is hoped that it can be signed in August.

"British Columbia isn't a part of the deal and while a government buy (out) makes it more likely that the project will go through, it still doesn't guarantee there won't be more protests", he said in an interview. The overwhelming majority of Canada's oil exports are sold to American refiners at a discount to global benchmarks, reducing fuel prices for American consumers and income for Canadian producers.

Opponents of the Kinder Morgan project are concerned over the environmental impact of extracting more fossil fuels from Alberta's oil sands and the possibility of an oil tanker spill in Canada's Pacific waters.

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Amid the feud, the pipeline has become a barometer for foreign investments in Canada, with some warning of a spillover into other sectors of the economy.

More than 200 protesters - including NDP MP Kennedy Stewart and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May - have already been arrested for violating a court-ordered injunction to stay a certain distance away from Kinder Morgan's marine terminal in Burnaby, B.C. Many more protests are expected as anger at the government's pipeline purchase exploded this week.

Although investors clearly felt something needed to be done since Kinder Morgan was threatening to pull out of the project, Ottawa's move to nationalize these assets left the markets with misgivings. But British Columbia has refused to yield.

In a press release, Anna Gerrard of Climate Justice Edmonton said the pipeline purchase is a "misuse of public funds and political power", and that the project is guaranteed to fail. "There are a lot of jobs in Saskatchewan that are either directly affected by the pipeline or indirectly affected by the pipeline".

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When the sale is finished, Canada will continue construction on its own, with plans to eventually sell it all in the future once market conditions improve.

"Obviously today was an admission by the Trudeau government that there was no way that this pipeline was going to be built, that really there was a desire by Kinder Morgan to divest of its Canadian assets".

Ross said Tuesday that she harbours doubts about the pipeline's economic viability, and anxious that the federal government would be on the hook for huge cleanup costs in case of a major spill. "There's still 10,000 people who will get arrested if need be". That claim is contested by the government of British Columbia and increasingly militant environmental and Indigenous protestors.

Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, was initially in favour of the Trans Mountain expansion, but said her support is wearing thin now with the $12-billion bill being handed to taxpayers. A new Crown corporation will be created to manage the project. "And when you look at where they might get the money to pay for that, and we don't know yet exactly whether they're just going to add to the deficit?"

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