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Canadian Prime Minister Approves Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has approved a controversial proposal to triple the capacity of an oil pipeline to suburban Vancouver. It has the potential to dramatically increase the amount of oil tankers passing through the Puget Sound area.

The expansion given conditional approval by Trudeau Tuesday would run parallel to Kinder Morgan's existing Trans Mountain pipeline, which terminates about 30 minutes east of downtown Vancouver in the suburb of Burnaby and only 22 miles from the U.S.-Canadian border. Texas-based Kinder Morgan hopes to have the expansion completed in the fall of 2019.

The expanded pipeline is supposed to bring 900,000 barrels of crude oil per day from neighboring Alberta to a terminal on Burrard Inlet. This is 70,000 more than Keystone XL.

This will support an increase from five oil tankers per month, up to 34. These ships, laden with crude oil, will then travel through Vancouver Harbour and north Puget Sound, past the San Juan Islands and Olympic Peninsula, en route to China.

The proposed expansion has already caused massive protests from opponents and First Nations, who are vowing to do everything to stop it.

"In approving this ecosystem-destroying pipeline, Canada’s leaders have ignored the threats to the Salish Sea, its marine species, and its 8 million people, including 29 Tribes and First Nations," said U.S.-based Friends of the Earth oceans and vessels program director Marcie Keever in a statement. "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has decided to value short-term profits over the long-term health of the Pacific Northwest’s people, climate and orcas."

The Vancouver Board of Trade is among the groups supporting the conditional approval, saying it will be good for the local economy.