The government's approval of a controversial gas pipeline in B.C. responds to a global "thirst" for Canada's natural resources, but it shouldn't be read as a likely green light for other energy projects, says Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.
The government faced a barrage of criticism Wednesday from those worried about the environmental impact — and from others who say the job-generating project should open the door for other pipelines.
But Carr stressed that each project will be judged individually, including Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion.
"Kinder Morgan will be decided on its own merits," he said. "There is no linkage between these projects."
The federal government approved the Pacific NorthWest LNG project in British Columbia with 190 legally binding conditions Tuesday night.
Job creation, investment
Today, interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose expressed skepticism the pipeline would ever get built, and pressed the government to green light the Kinder Morgan project that's now on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's "desk."
'It will be built if it's approved," she said. "That's hundreds of jobs and billions of dollars in investment, and it's making sure our oil that is land-locked in Alberta and Saskatchewan can finally get to tidewater and sold at a higher price which benefits all Canadians."
Ambrose also said that approving the LNG project is not enough. She insisted the prime minister must be a "champion" to ensure actually gets built.
Climate change critics
Defending the approval decision amid widespread concerns from environmental and First Nations groups about greenhouse gas emissions and the impact on local fisheries and habitat, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said it's part of a pan-Canada climate change plan that will include carbon pricing to offset emissions.
Trudeau also defended the decision as a tool to responsibly help the economy.
"In order to create the kind of government that people want, we need to both grow the economy and protect the environment and that means folding in consultation with indigenous leaders, talking to communities, making sure we get the world-class science done," he said. "That's exactly what we did on this project."
But NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said it is "beyond comprehension" and "galling" that the government would approve the project after promising to lead the way on climate change and environmental protection.
"A natural gas pipeline in the Great Bear rainforest will become the flashpoint for people who are concerned about aboriginal rights, about the future of our planet, for our children and our grandchildren," he said.
The project has been championed by B.C. Premier Christy Clark as the largest private-sector development in the country's history.
Backed by Malaysian-owned energy giant Petronas, it would move natural gas from B.C.'s northeast via a TransCanada pipeline to a terminal on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert for export to Asia.