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Opinion: Did Trudeau Break His Pipeline Promise?


The Dakota Access pipeline is a controversial pipeline project that is taking place in the United States. Construction for the pipeline began in 2016, which was created in order to transport crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois, cutting through four states (i.e., North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa & Illinois). The main function of the Dakota Access pipeline is to efficiently and rapidly be able to transport natural resources, while keeping prices lower for products such as gas. Much of the controversy surrounding the project, however, has come from the fact that the pipeline was originally routed to cut into Native American territory at Standing Rock, although that path has since been rerouted. The remaining concerns surrounding the pipeline consider the impact that the construction of the pipeline will have on the environment.

As many of you might have seen or read in the media, the pipeline project had been put on hold for a considerable time, until President Donald Trump filed an executive order stating that the project be continued. 

This was a shock to many around the United States but it was also a shock to many Canadians to see that Prime Minster Justin Trudeau approved of President Trump’s decision. Justin Trudeau has been making efforts to claim that he is an strong advocate for environmental issues and halting climate change; now, many feel that his approval of President Trump’s decision is hypocritical.

The Northern Gateway Project was a controversial pipeline that was to be constructed in British Columbia and since 2014, Trudeau has claimed that he would not approve the project due to the negative impact it would have on the environment. He has kept his promise with this particular pipeline, with an official rejection on November 29th, 2016. However, Trudeau has approved of two other pipeline projects including the Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, claiming that there is no country that would find that much oil and let it be while there is an active market for it.

                                                 Photo from: Trans Mountain/Kinder Morgan, accessed from: CBC News 

Trudeau claims that he would not approve of this pipeline if he did not believe that the rights of Indigenous people would be respected during the construction and that there would be a price placed on the carbon and strong environmental protection. Although he claims these as his reasons for approving of the pipeline, and has set plans for how he would like the pipeline to progress, it is unclear if his intentions are being followed through.

As the pipeline is still in the early stages of development, we will have to watch and see to figure out how this will progress. However, it is important to keep in mind the risks that these oil pipelines can have on the environment (i.e. oil spills, polluting water, putting animals and humans at risk) especially when considering how such projects that don’t impact us directly may have far-reaching consequences for our environment and health. 



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