Trans Mountain – Ottawa Approves Expansion

By Andrew Thomson | UPDATED June 19, 2019 11:17amET

The federal government has again said yes to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, this time after Ottawa itself bought the project, a federal court quashed the initial approval, and cabinet ordered a new environmental assessment and extra Indigenous consultation.

Construction is ready to begin in 2019, and every dollar earned by the federal government will go towards clean energy transition, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on June 18. And new Indigenous consultation could lead to an equity stake in Trans Mountain, he added.

Still, pipeline opponents in British Columbia vowed to continue fighting the project.

WATCH Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, cabinet ministers, and reaction from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and federal opposition leaders


QUICK REACTION: Andrew Scheer, Rueben George, Jagmeet Singh



The National Energy Board added 16 new conditions to its environmental assessment in February 2019, nearly six months after a federal court halted construction on the $7.4-billion project now owned by the federal government.

The NEB remained in favour of approving the project in Canada’s national interest despite “significant adverse environmental effects” on the Southern resident killer whale population, along with negative implications for Indigenous cultural use of the whales and additional greenhouse gas emissions from marine tanker traffic.

In quashing the government’s order in council, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled last August that the NEB failed to account for the potential impact of additional tanker traffic on the Southern resident killer whale population on the Pacific coast.

The government subsequently ordered the NEB to re-examine its approval and the potential effect of increased tanker traffic on the Pacific coast. Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi wanted the NEB to consider the government’s 2016 ocean protection plan and a 2017 plan to protect the Southern resident killer whale

The government also announced a new “special marine technical advisor” for the NEB.

The 2018 federal court ruling also ruled that the final round of Indigenous consultation was inadequate. Ottawa pledged new talks with 117 Indigenous groups, overseen by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci.

Browse Trans Mountain’s proposed route for pipeline expansion:


The federal government agreed to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan in spring 2018. Company shareholders approved the $4.5-billion sale on the same day (Aug. 30, 2018) as the federal court ruling.

A January 2019 report by the parliamentary budget officer concluded the federal purchase of Trans Mountain was at the “higher end” of the pipeline’s value range. Once Ottawa tries to sell the pipeline, construction delays, cost overruns, and low crude oil prices could all combine to reduce its value, currently estimated by the PBO at between $3.6 and $4.4 billion.

According to the study, a one year delay in getting the Trans Mountain expansion running (from 2021 to 2022) would reduce the project’s value by $693 million. Likewise, a 10-per-cent increase in construction costs would drop Trans Mountain’s value by hundreds of millions of dollars.

How much will changes and construction delays affect the cost of Trans Mountain? (February 2019)




Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh

Green Leader Elizabeth May

Bloc Québécois environment critic Monique Pauzé

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney

B.C. Indigenous leaders respond

MPs Paul Lefebvre, Shannon Stubbs, and Peter Julian with Peter Van Dusen on PrimeTime Politics ahead of the announcement: