The Environment Ministry ordered a halt to work until August 20 in order not to endanger the nesting season
Work related to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (in the Canadian province of British Columbia) has been suspended for four months. The decision, made by the Federal Department of the Environment, is up to an agent who confirmed that at least eight hummingbird nests near Burnaby are in danger from construction activities. The official’s visit came due to accusations by environmentalists. This ruling will be in effect until August 20, when the nesting season ends.
The order, issued on April 16, is backed by the Migratory Birds Act, which was established by the Canadian Parliament in 1917 and updated in 1994. This rule states that, unless a specific regulation is implemented, “nests cannot be destroyed, destroyed, disturbed, or removed.” Although the species is not in danger of extinction. Not only do Anna hummingbirds (Anna calipet) live in these forests, also songbirds and blackbirds, among other birds, abound on foliage.
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“Because it is the nesting season, migratory birds are particularly vulnerable at this time,” Environment Canada says in a statement. The ministry specified the damage that may be caused to these nests due to “cutting vegetation and trees or other disturbing activities such as digging and using saws or heavy machinery”, referring to the aspects that the law defends regarding migratory birds.
The Trans Mountain pipeline has been in operation since 1953. It remains to this day the only pipeline carrying oil from Alberta to the shores of British Columbia. The Justin Trudeau government agreed to expand it in November 2016, but with certain conditions. In May 2018, Trudeau announced his nationalization: he paid about 4.5 billion Canadian dollars (3 billion euros at the time) to Kinder Morgan.
Despite criticism from environmentalists and indigenous communities, Trudeau finally approved the expansion project in June 2019, with the goal of tripling oil shipping capacity (about 900,000 barrels per day when construction is completed). He did so a day after declaring a climate emergency in Canada, and he received a lot of criticism in the country. The Canadian Prime Minister emphasized that it is possible to find a balance between economic development and environmental stewardship.
The appeals filed by opponents of the Trans Mountain expansion were unsuccessful in court. Protecting the nests slows the progress of this project for at least four months. According to the latest estimates, the total cost of the work will be 12.6 billion Canadian dollars (8.46 billion euros).
The Trudeau government is confident of the economic benefits of the Trans Mountain expansion. This initiative became even more significant as a result of President Joe Biden’s decree, signed at the end of January, to terminate building and exploitation permits for Keystone XL. This pipeline is planned to send Canadian crude to US refineries. On April 21, Canada committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions between 40% and 45% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.