VANCOUVER/Musqueam, Squamish & Tsleil-Waututh Territories – Tens of thousands of Canadians are asking the federal government to pause any further construction spending on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) until a cost update is provided, two years after the federal government last told Canadians how much they would be paying for the pipeline.
“Nearly 20,000 Canadians have signed petitions supporting this call, and that number is growing every day,” said Angus Wong, Canadian campaigner with SumOfUs.org.
A 2021 report from West Coast Environmental Law analyzed hundreds of regulatory findings and found evidence of delays in every segment of the pipeline. But Trans Mountain has failed to provide an official updated cost estimate, leaving its owners, the Canadian public, with a stale dated cost estimate from before the COVID-19 pandemic which is now over 80 percent spent ($10B) to complete about 40 percent of the pipeline. Recent news stories have cited industry insiders predicting the construction cost to be more than $17 billion, with completion delayed by over one year into 2024.
“The project is significantly delayed and over budget due to the myriad of set-backs related to COVID-19 protocol violations, safety issues, fired contractors, failed attempts to cross rivers and the impacts of the climate related events like the forest fires, floods and landslides in 2021,” said Eugene Kung of West Coast Environmental Law Association. “We predict that the cost is approaching $20 billion and delays will extend until 2024.”
On February 7, 2020, Trans Mountain announced that the cost of construction had grown to $12.6 billion. The cost of construction has increased steadily since the controversial project was first proposed in 2013 at $4.5 billion. When Canada purchased the project from Kinder Morgan in 2018, the cost estimate was $7.4 billion.
“The ballooning costs of TMX should be a huge red flag for any Indigenous Nations considering economic participation without the ability to conduct due diligence or review real data. It is unconscionable that a publicly-owned crown corporation is keeping Canadians in the dark about how much of their money could be flushed down this doomed and destructive pipeline,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “This pipeline will become a stranded asset as we continue to navigate the climate crisis. Canada simply cannot ram TMX through Indigenous territories without their Free Prior and Informed Consent; in addition to puncturing any hopes of reconciliation and climate leadership, it is against legislation that was passed both at the federal and provincial levels requiring Canada and BC to uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
The toll structure approved by the National Energy Board (now Canadian Energy Regulator) means that only 25 percent of cost overruns can be fully recovered through the customers of the pipeline, leaving the owners – Canadian taxpayers – to cover the remainder, which could be billions of dollars.
A recent poll from Abacus Data found that only 7 percent of Canadians support spending $20 billion on Trans Mountain, while 59 percent do not support spending more than $12.6 billion on the embattled pipeline.
“Construction cannot be allowed to continue until Minister Freeland offers a basic level of transparency and accountability about the construction costs of the Trans Mountain pipeline,” said Wilderness Committee Climate Campaigner Peter McCartney. “Only then can we have an informed discussion about how to spend public dollars in a climate crisis.”
For further information, please contact:
Grand Chief Stewart Philip, UBCIC, 250-490-5314
Eugene Kung, West Coast Environmental Law Association, 604-601-2514
Peter McCartney, Wilderness Committee, 778-239-1935
Angus Wong, SumOfUs.org, 778-862-2902