PBO: meeting climate targets means Trans Mountain expansion unprofitable

An analysis from the Parliamentary Budget Office states that if Canada is going to meet its climate change goals, the Trans Mountain expansion project will operate at a loss, and not recoup the public investment of $4.4B to purchase and $12.6B to build.

The Canadian Press with CNC files

OTTAWA — A new report from the parliamentary budget officer says the federal government could end up losing money on the Trans Mountain pipeline if it further tightens its climate policy.

The federal government bought the pipeline, and the unfinished work to increase its capacity by twinning it, in August 2018 for $4.4 billion. Completing the construction is expected to cost an additional $12.6 billion.

The Liberals haven't been able to find a buyer for the pipeline from Alberta to the West Coast, and instead are paying for its expansion.

The budget officer says the pipeline remains profitable based on expected cash flows, estimating the government could make $600 million above its purchase price.

But Yves Giroux warns in his report today that everything could change based on circumstances both beyond and within the government's control, including changes to climate policy that would reduce demand for the petroleum products the pipeline moves.

Giroux also provides a scenario for the Liberals' promise to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, estimating doing could lead to a $1.5-billion loss on Trans Mountain.

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