Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cited Premier Rachel Notley's actions on climate change for his cabinet's decision to approve the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.
"Let me say this definitively, we could not have approved this project without the leadership of Premier Notley and Alberta's climate leadership plan," Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa Tuesday while announcing the go-ahead of the pipeline. "A plan that commits to pricing carbon and capping oilsands emissions at 100 megatonnes per year."
The $6.8-billion Trans Mountain pipeline will take oil from Edmonton to a terminal in Burnaby, B,C,. where the product can be shipped to world markets. The project is expected to create 15,000 jobs.
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Notley was in Ottawa to meet with the prime minister immediately following the pipeline announcement.
Afterwards, she praised his "extraordinary" leadership in approving a pipeline that will improve a provincial economy that continues to reel from the drop in oil prices.
"It has been a long, dark night for the people of Alberta as a result," she said. "Today, we are finally seeing some morning light.
"We're getting a chance to break our land lock. We're getting a chance to sell to China and other new markets at better prices."
Alberta is implementing a $20-per-tonne carbon tax on Jan.1, 2017 that will increase to $30 per tonne in 2018.
Notley said Alberta initially was tepid towards the federal plan to phase in a $50-per-tonne carbon tax by 2022 unless Ottawa approved a pipeline that could help get oil to Asian markets.
"Now I believe we are well positioned to work together with the rest of Canadians to make Canada an environmental leader, while at the same time protecting the jobs of so many people who rely on them to feed their families and put roofs over their heads," she said.
First Nation vows to fight
In a news release, Kinder Morgan said it will now start seeking permits with construction planned to start in September 2017. The company hopes to have the project online by the end of 2019.
The pipeline will run through the traditional territory of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, who vow to step up their fight against the project.
Trudeau also gave the green light to the Enbridge Line 3 project that will carry oil from Hardisty, Alta., to Wisconsin. But he rejected the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline.
Alberta Official Opposition Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said he was excited Kinder Morgan and Line 3 were going ahead. But he slammed Trudeau for not approving Northern Gateway.
"The NEB (National Energy Board) did approve that pipeline some years ago, and I think the rejection of the science on that by the prime minister over what our independent, arm's-length body decided is not a good decision for Canadians, and especially not good for Albertans," Jean said.
Jean dismissed Trudeau's assertion that Notley and the climate plan played a big role in getting the project approved.
"I reject the idea that we have to trade pipelines for some form of social licence," he said. "The NEB, which obviously made the decision based on science, made these decisions some time ago."
While Jean said hoped Kinder Morgan would be built, he expressed concern that Notley has appointed pipeline opponents to the province's oilsands advisory group.