Premier Dwight Ball is hopeful the Kinder Morgan pipeline project will go ahead as planned, with this province set to benefit.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with British Columbia Premier John Horgan and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on Sunday and announced the federal government will begin discussions with Kinder Morgan about the planned expansion.
The company has set a May 31 deadline for the project, which would expand the Trans Mountain Pipeline into British Columbia, allowing oil from Alberta’s oilsands to the Pacific Coast. Kinder Morgan plans to spend $7.4 billion on the expansion.
Ball says the project should go ahead, aligning himself with the Trudeau and Notley against the concerns raised by Horgan.
“This decision for Kinder Morgan was made quite some time ago. We had a provincial government that made the necessary permits that were required for this investment. It also received the federal government sanctioning of this project as well,” Ball said.
“We saw in the past, a federal government supported this, a provincial government in B.C. that supported this, and the work had begun. I support the Kinder Morgan pipeline.”
Ball pointed to this province’s connection to Fort McMurray as a way Newfoundland and Labrador benefits from growth in Alberta’s oil and gas industry.
“When Alberta’s oil industry is performing well, it means Canada in general will have more revenue for social programs. Our province will be impacted immensely by this decision,” Ball said.
“This is not about the environment versus the economy. I firmly believe that the two can coexist and be very successful.”
Ball says he hasn’t contacted either of the duelling premiers to express his position directly.
Opposition to the project has come from Indigenous groups concerned about the effects of an oil pipeline on the B.C. coast, with some protesters potentially facing charges. Concerns for the coastline and marine life in the area are being raised by the prospect of more oil tankers moving along the coast.
Ball says the federal government stepping in to a provincial dispute to support a pipeline project is a good signal for Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore oil and gas industry, where a huge portion of provincial revenue is generated.
Speaking of moving resources between provinces, Ball says there should be no problems between this province and Quebec should transmission lines need to be built to get energy through Quebec to the rest of Canada.
“Part of the Canadian Free Trade agreement is an energy chapter — the rules are already in place for the free flow of electricity through Quebec,” he said.
“We do not have a hydro project in Labrador that would need that access through Quebec transmission.”
Such a problem could arise if and when the province sanctions the Gull Island hydroelectric project, but Ball repeated that no such talks are happening right now.