pipeline

Kinder Morgan Review Panel Slammed for Perceived Conflict of Interest

Restoring oversight. Meaningful participation. Rebuilding trust.

Such phrases sounded just so good when the federal Liberal Party first detailed its plan to address the environmental assessment and consultation process for major projects like interprovincial pipelines and LNG export terminals.

But such rhetoric may already be critically undermined thanks to way the government has approached public consultations in its environmental review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project, which would almost triple the Edmonton-to-Burnaby pipeline’s capacity to 890,000 barrels/day.

Such missteps include but are certainly not limited to: appointing a former LNG lobbyist and partner with Kinder Morgan to sit on the panel, providing inadequate notice to the public and First Nations of the actual hearings, and failing to mandate that the consultations actually have any bearing on the final decision by cabinet.

National Energy Board Gives Green Light to Kinder Morgan Pipeline Following Review Process Plagued with Failures

The National Energy Board (NEB) recommended a conditional approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion today after a years-long review process many participants criticized as inadequate, rushed and lacking in transparency.

In a filing posted Thursday the NEB recommended cabinet approve the project, subject to 157 conditions.

Taking into account all the evidence, considering all relevant factors, and given that there are considerable benefits nationally, regionally and to some degree locally, the Board found that the benefits of the Project would outweigh the residual burdens,” the filing states.

Yet many individuals and organizations involved in the process say today’s recommendation comes on the heels of a beleaguered review process that did not consider many of the risks of the project.

Today’s recommendation is exactly as we expected given the way this panel approached the review,” Robyn Allan, former CEO of ICBC and economic risk expert, told DeSmog Canada. “It was simply set up as a way to get to yes.”

TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline Resumes Operations Under Supervision After South Dakota Dilbit Spill

TransCanada received permission from federal regulators to re-start the Keystone Pipeline a week after a 16,800-gallon spill in South Dakota. The pipeline started back up on Sunday morning at a reduced operating pressure.
 
The incident has given ammunition to a group appealing the decision by the South Dakota Public Utility Commission (PUC) to re-certify TransCanada’s permit to build the Keystone XL Pipeline, despite President Obama’s denial of a permit needed to cross international borders. 
 
The PUC reasoned that the next president could decide to issue the permit — a reminder that TransCanada has not given up on building the northern route of the Keystone XL. However, this most recent spill renews questions about the company’s ability to build safe pipelines.
 
When Evan Vokes, a former TransCanada materials engineer-turned-whistleblower, heard about a small spill along the Keystone Pipeline, he guessed that the leak would be found at a transition weld near where the pipeline crossed under a road. Transition welds connect thinner-walled pipe to thicker-walled pipe.

Pipeline Companies Ordered to Publicly Disclose Emergency Plans Online After Kinder Morgan Secrecy Scandal

The National Energy Board, Canada’s federal pipeline regulator, will now require pipeline operators to make emergency response plans publicly available online, according to an order issued this week.
 
The new rules require all pipeline companies to post emergency plans on their websites by September 30, 2016. The increased transparency measure is part of a larger effort by the National Energy Board to regain credibility with the Canadian public.

“We’ve always reviewed manuals, we’ve always reviewed companies’ emergency management systems to make sure they’re robust, but Canadians are now saying they want more information and we’re just acting on what Canadians are telling us,” National Energy Board chairman Peter Watson told Global News. 

“This is an example where I felt quite strongly that we could put more information out about companies’ emergency response plans and help people understand what’s at play and how these things work. And that will, I think, give them more confidence that we know what we’re doing around these systems for emergency response.”

Want Free Trade? Build a West Coast Pipeline, Says China

This article originally appeared on the Dogwood Initiative blog.

With final arguments in the Kinder Morgan pipeline review underway in Burnaby, a top Chinese official is using the moment to offer Canadians a deal. During his visit to Ottawa last Friday, Han Jun, China’s Vice-Minister of Financial and Economic Affairs, said the world’s second-largest economy would be willing to sign a Free Trade Agreement with Canada — but only if we build a pipeline to the West Coast.

Signing an FTA, Han suggested, would give Canadian agriculture and energy producers greater access to China’s domestic market. In return, Beijing also wants restrictions lifted on takeovers of Canadian companies by Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

China has been working to gain access to Canadian oil reserves for more than a decade. As Enbridge’s first partner on Northern Gateway in 2005, state-owned PetroChina pledged to purchase up to half of the pipeline’s capacity, but became frustrated by delays and eventually pulled out of the project.

In the years following, China’s SOEs invested billions into the Canadian oil patch, culminating in the 2013 purchase of Nexen by the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) for $15 billion. (In a tragic coincidence, hours after Han spoke in Ottawa, an explosion at Nexen’s Long Lake facility killed one worker and left another critically injured.)

Trudeau is “Breaking the Promise He Made” By Allowing Trans Mountain Pipeline Review to Continue Under Old Rules

The next round of the National Energy Board’s (NEB) hearings for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline are scheduled to begin January 19 in Vancouver, B.C.

Climate advocates and critics of the National Energy Board are disappointed the review process will continue on under rules established by the previous federal government, especially since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to make the process more credible and evidence-based.

The Liberal party platform promised to immediately review the process, restoring “robust oversight and thorough environmental assessments” as well as restoring “lost protections” eliminated during the former government’s sweeping changes to environmental law. 

At a campaign stop in August 2015, Trudeau told Kai Nagata, energy and democracy director at the Dogwood Initiative, that the NEB overhaul would apply to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

Yes. Yes,” Trudeau said. “It applies to existing projects, existing pipelines as well.”

B.C. Formally Opposes Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Due to Marine and Land-based Oil Spill Risks

Kinder Morgan’s proposal to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline has failed to meet British Columbia’s standards when it comes to marine and land spill response plans, according to the province’s submission provided to the National Energy Board (NEB) Monday.

Environment Minister Mary Polak told reporters the province outlined five conditions that must be met to receive the province's support for any oil pipeline in its submission to the National Energy Board. She said two of those conditions, pertaining to marine and land spill response, have not been met.

Today we are putting forward our final submission to the National Energy Board hearings on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion,” Polak said.

You will see once again our five conditions outlined. We see those as our basis for defending British Columbia’s interests in terms of environment, but also First Nations and benefits to British Columbia.”

We have not at this time seen evidence in the NEB process that those conditions have been met,” she said.

Nexen’s Brand New, Double-Layered Pipeline Just Ruptured, Causing One of the Biggest Oil Spills Ever in Alberta

A pipeline at Nexen Energy’s Long Lake oilsands facility southeast of Fort McMurray, Alberta, spilled about five million liters (32,000 barrels or some 1.32 million gallons) of emulsion, a mixture of bitumen, sand and water, Wednesday afternoon — marking one of the largest spills in Alberta history.

According to reports, the spill covered as much as 16,000 square meters (almost 4 acres). The emulsion leaked from a “feeder” pipe that connects a wellhead to a processing plant.

At a press conference Thursday, Ron Bailey, Nexen vice president of Canadian operations, said the company “sincerely apologize[d] for the impact this has caused.” He confirmed the double-layered pipeline is a part of Nexen's new system and that the line's emergency detection system failed to alert officials to the breach, which was discovered during a visual inspection. 

Just How Risky is Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion?

With the May 27 deadline for evidence submission to the National Energy Board’s review of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project fast approaching, the cities of Burnaby and Vancouver are stepping up.

Last Wednesday, the City of Burnaby quietly released a report [PDF] outlining the risks and possible implications of a fire at the Burnaby tanker terminal. The results, to quote Mayor Derek Corrigan, are “comprehensive and jarring.”

It is remarkable that Kinder Morgan is even asking the citizens of Burnaby to assume such risks, but even moreso that the National Energy Board is willing to consider expanding this storage site in this location — on a hillside near thousands of residents and a busy university, and adjacent to an urban conservation area. This report clearly demonstrates that questions about the safety of this proposed tank farm expansion should be answered prior to any decisions being made by the NEB and that the Board should consider this an essential priority.”

Citizens Take Constitutional, Free Speech Challenge Against National Energy Board to Supreme Court

A group of citizens fighting to speak about climate change and the oilsands at National Energy Board (NEB) reviews of pipeline projects, like the current Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, are taking their battle all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The group, comprised of landowners, academics, owners of business and many others, filed a constitutional challenge against the NEB’s restrictive policies that limit public participation and prevent discussion of climate and upstream oil and gas activities.

The purpose of taking the challenge to the Supreme Court “is to ask that Court to direct the NEB to do its job properly,” David Martin, legal counsel, explained in a statement.

The NEB's claim that it cannot consider scientific evidence regarding the long term impacts of the export of bitumen is simply wrong,” Martin said.

“Instead the NEB is making a misguided choice to adopt an unconstitutionally narrow interpretation of its jurisdiction so as to avoid having to address the real competing public interests that pipeline approval applications necessarily entail.”

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