Pol: Pandemic a 'Great Time' to Build Pipeline. Environmentalists Fume

Sonya Savage, energy minister in Alberta, Canada, says pandemic is keeping large protests at bay
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2020 8:13 AM CDT
Pandemic's Bright Side, per Politician: No Pipeline Protests
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Maryviolet)

There just might be a silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic: There can't be any huge protests against pipelines being built. That's the take of a conservative Canadian politician, anyway, and it's one that's now getting some pushback. Per the Canadian Press, Sonya Savage, Alberta's energy minister, appeared Friday on a podcast put on by the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, and the discussion turned to the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, a pipeline being built between Vancouver and Edmonton. "Now is a great time to be building a pipeline because you can't have protests of more than 15 people," Savage said, referring to the ban on large gatherings due to COVID-19. "Let's get it built." Apparently believing Savage to be joking, the interviewer laughed at her remark, but, per the Canadian Press, "Savage did not."

She then launched into an "unprompted" elaboration, noting that "people are not going to have ... patience for protests that get in the way of people working" and "those types of ideological protests ... are not going to be tolerated by ordinary Canadians." Per the Daily Beast, environmentalists are "infuriated" at her remarks. "They're literally using covid as a cover to build pipelines because they know protest is impossible," American environmentalist Bill McKibben tweeted. Another big name also spoke up. "Well, at least we are seeing some honesty for once," Greta Thunberg posted on Facebook. "Unfortunately this [is] how large parts of the world are run." A Savage rep noted to the Canadian Press that "we respect the right to lawful protests" and that "the limitations to public gatherings ... have benefited no one, including project proponents and any opposition groups." (More Canada stories.)

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