Canada has reapproved a pipeline expansion that would triple the flow of oil within the country, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned against sole reliance on the United States to purchase the energy source as unreliable.
Trudeau approved the Trans Mountain pipeline extension Tuesday for the second time since 2016 after the initial project was halted nearly a year ago when the National Energy Board was ordered to reevaluate its review of the project after the Federal Court of Appeals found that the original study lacked adequate consultations with First Nations peoples.
The contentious build would ultimately triple the capacity of an existing line to ship oil extracted from the oil sands in Alberta across the snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies. It’s estimated that the pipeline would increase barrels from 300,000 to 890,000 a day.
Trudeau wants construction on the pipeline to being in the summer as Canada can no longer rely on the U.S. as their sole source of oil.
"It's really simple. Right now, we basically have one customer for our energy resources, the United States. As we've seen over the past few years anything can happen with our neighbors to the south," Trudeau said.
Canada has the world's third largest oil reserves, but 99 percent of its exports now go to refiners in the U.S., where limits on pipeline and refinery capacity mean Canadian oil sells at a discount.
The increase in oil production would allow Canada to diversify oil markets and vastly increase exports to Asia, where it could command a higher price.
Despite Trudeau's optimism, the project is expected to face delays from environmental protection groups and indigenous communities.
Many indigenous people see the 620 miles of new pipeline as a threat to their lands, echoing concerns raised by Native Americans about the Keystone XL project in the U.S. Many in Canada say it also raises broader environmental concerns by enabling increased development of the carbon-heavy oil sands.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.