Natural Resources minister Amarjeet Sohi offered MPs no assurances the embattled Trans Mountain pipeline would be built, a day after Environment minister Catherine McKenna said her department’s largely unmodeled climate plan would achieve Paris Accord commitments.
“Cabinet has to make that decision,” Sohi told Parliament’s resources committee Tuesday afternoon, of a self-imposed June 18 decision deadline for TMX. “I cannot predetermine the decision.”
Nearly one year ago, the government purchased the existing pipeline from Texas resource giant Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion – at the time Finance Minister Bill Morneau justified the pipeline’s nationalization because the project was “absolutely” in the nation’s interest.
“We need to find a way to get this done,” Morneau then told CBC.
Though Sohi said the government “was in a good position to achieve that”, after already delaying the decision a month, he doubled-down on expanding federal review scope for in-situ oil sands projects following Alberta premier Jason Kenney’s vow to scrap the province’s carbon tax.
“In situ projects will be exempt,” Sohi told the committee. “As long as there is a cap on emissions in jurisdictions where they would be proposed.”
A day earlier at Environment committee, McKenna was in the hot-seat over her department’s Clean Canada plan – in particular its claims to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
The plan pins its hopes on cutting a 26 percent of a required 302 megatons of emissions on “unmodeled measure(s)”. These include investments in “public transit, clean innovation and new technologies.”
Additionally, Environment Canada calculates 24-megaton’s worth in reductions that our forests provide as natural carbon sinks.
Conservative environment critic Ed Fast reminded McKenna during her appearance that “the (federal) Auditor General, the Commissioner of the Environment, the United Nations, even your own departmental documents say that you’re not going to meet your Paris targets, in fact even saint David Suzuki says you won’t meet your targets.”
McKenna responded that “we are committed to meet our target…and we’re going to continue be even more ambitious.”
But these ambitions could include increasing the carbon tax burden beyond $50/ton, where it tops out in 2020 under current policy. More than two years ago, an Environment Canada briefing for McKenna indicates she was told that the carbon tax had to be $100/ton by 2020 for Canada to achieve its Paris climate goals.
Just last week, a Parliamentary Budget Office report noted that households in Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Manitoba – regions without a provincial carbon tax regimes – would pay the lion’s share of the federal carbon tax.