The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will for the first time put Canada fully in the global energy game, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr told a business audience at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
"The Trans Mountain expansion will create a clear path for mobile markets for Canadian energy," he said. "It's critical we build the infrastructure necessary for moving our resources beyond our shores."
Carr said Ottawa's decisions to allow the $6.8-billion Trans Mountain project planned by Kinder Morgan Canada — as well as the Enbridge-backed Alberta-to-Wisconsin Line 3 — were based on a careful balance of the needs of Indigenous peoples, the national economy and the environment.
Regarding Trans Mountain, Carr said there was meaningful, long-running consultation with the affected stakeholders before the approvals were given.
"We have made a decision that factors in those views," he said.
"Our announcement on pipelines bring much needed new hope to thousands of hard-working people in the energy sector."
Earlier on Wednesday, Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson said he's confident there will be shovels in the ground later next year now that Ottawa has given the green light to the contentious Trans Mountain expansion project.
The expansion will nearly triple the capacity of a six-decade old pipeline to 890,000 barrels a day with 1,150-kilometres of twinned pipeline moving a mix of oil products from Edmonton to a terminal in Burnaby, B.C., near Vancouver, where it will be exported to markets in Asia.
"This is a defining moment for our project. It's also a defining moment for the country," Anderson said on a conference call.
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"We're looking forward to getting from yes to starting to build," he said.
Anderson praised Trudeau and the federal cabinet for its decision, singling out Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr for his efforts to get the project approved.
The NEB has imposed 157 conditions on the project when it gave its go-ahead in April. Anderson reiterated his promise Wednesday that Kinder Morgan will abide by those conditions.
Activists have been lining up to oppose the project, with one B.C. First Nation near the project's route warning its construction could threaten the community's very survival and it has not ruled out protests and court action.
Anderson said he realizes there are still steadfast opponents of the project, but he called on activists to voice their positions legally and to respect the approval process.
"At the end of the day, the NEB and the government have said our project is in the interest of Canadians," he said.
At the same time, he said, consultations with communities affected by the project will continue as the Trans Mountain expansion moves ahead.
"We will continue to listen, we will continue to engage," he said.
Line 3 approved, Northern Gateway nixed
As it announced approval for Trans Mountain, cabinet killed the Enbridge-backed Northern Gateway, a proposed 1,177-kilometre pipeline that would have carried oil from Bruderheim, Alta., to an export terminal in Kitimat, B.C.
However, Ottawa approved Enbridge's Line 3, the largest pipeline project in the company's history.
The 1,659-kilometre project will carry oil from a terminal near Hardisty, Alta., through northern Minnesota to Superior, Wis.
The NEB signed off on a new Line 3 in April, but with 89 conditions for the segment that runs from eastern Alberta to Gretna, Man., near the Canada-U.S. border.