Canada govt steps in to buy controversial pipeline

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Edmonton Journal political affairs Graham Thomson speaks about the federal government's purchase of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline and the Alberta government's reaction to it.

OTTAWA-Canada on Tuesday struck a multibillion deal with Kinder Morgan Inc.to take ownership of the Trans Mountain pipeline project in a bid to save the project.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who has threatened to curtail petroleum exports to British Columbia in retaliation for the neighboring province's battle against Trans Mountain, said "sometimes, on a big national project, the government has to step in and play a role". The cost of pipeline bottlenecks continues to weigh on Canada's oil industry.

It could look at buying Western Canada natural gas plants now being marketed by Enbridge Inc. with the cash its getting from the sale, he said, while noting Kinder Morgan has also suggested it may distribute cash to shareholders.

The move to buy the pipeline from an affiliate of USA -based pipeline company Kinder Morgan follows the company's threat to pull the plug on the expansion because of delays caused by opponents of the project.

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People in New Brunswick are gob-smacked that the federal government has bought a pipeline, after engineering the demise of Energy East. Don Darling, the Saint John mayor, said Ottawa claims Trans Mountain is in the national interest because it will create jobs.

We can't anticipate what a court might say.

The government will also offer federal loan guarantees to ensure construction of the expansion continues through the 2018 season as part of the deal with the company, a unit of Houston-based Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI.N). The transaction is expected to close by August.

The news came days ahead of a May 31 deadline set by Kinder Morgan Canada - the company stopped investor spending and suspended non-essential activities related to the project in an announcement on April 8. It is subject to approval by Kinder Morgan's shareholders. This was a government that stood up in Paris and promised climate action.

The federal government is already trying to find a willing buyer to take Trans Mountain off its hands. "This project has more certainty than ever before".

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"Whether she wins (the election) that's another story, but had this not happened, she was toast", said Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

However, the British Columbian government said Tuesday it wasn't backing down.

"Canada stands to sacrifice its global reputation, irreplaceable iconic species like the Southern resident Killer Whales, and its commitments to meet its Paris Climate targets and to reconcile with Indigenous people - all while putting enormous risk on Canadian taxpayers". "We won't stop until the job is done". Construction costs of the pipeline are estimated to be at $7.4-billion-funds that the liberals may have to scrap together from taxpayer dollars.

Canada approved the project in November 2016, following an expanded environmental review process that included additional consultations with Indigenous communities and assessing the amount of additional emissions likely to result from additional production.

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