Texas-based multinational Kinder Morgan is proposing to expand its oilsands pipeline system to B.C.'s West Coast by building the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Upon completion, the Trans Mountain pipeline system would transport more than 890,000 barrels a day of primarily diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to B.C.’s west coast. Most of this heavy oil is destined for Westridge dock in Burnaby, where it would be loaded onto oil tankers that would navigate past Vancouver, the Gulf Islands and Victoria before reaching open ocean.
The expansion would increase oil tanker traffic from around 60 per year to more than 400 per year. The Trans Mountain pipeline project is under review by the National Energy Board — a process that has been criticized for its lack of oral cross-examination, its failure to consider climate change, the rights of First Nations and its failure to compel answers from Kinder Morgan on key questions such as oil spill response capability.
In November 2014, dozens of citizens were arrested on Burnaby Mountain while protesting engineering work by Kinder Morgan on the Trans Mountain pipeline project. Trans Mountain expansion is opposed by the mayors of Vancouver and Burnaby. In May of 2014 the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation launched a legal challenge against the pipeline, saying the National Energy Board and the Canadian government failed to meet their legal obligation to consult the band during the pipeline review process.
Former energy executive Marc Eliesen, who was an intervener in the hearings, dropped out of the process in late 2014, calling it “fraudulent.” Eliesen called for the province of B.C. to cancel the equivalency agreement with the federal government, effectively rendering the National Energy Board review meaningless. His call has been echoed by the B.C. NDP party and the Green party.
The National Energy Board will make its recommendation on Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline to the federal cabinet by Jan. 25, 2016.
Image credit: Roy Luck on Flickr.
DeSmog Canada's latest news coverage on the Kinder Morgan Pipeline
So far, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made a lot of the right moves when it comes to climate change, but a new report this week makes it clear that Canada's PM cannot lead on climate change and support the expansion of oilsands pipelines at the same time.
Yet, there was a rumor circling earlier this month that the Trudeau government would approve the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline in the name of the “national interest”. If approved, the pipeline will increase the amount of oil produced and shipped to Vancouver's coast for export by a whopping 590,000 barrels a day — nearly triple what is currently transported.
At the same time, the Trudeau government is expected to roll out a plan this fall to fulfill its election promise to take “bold action” on climate change.
These two positions are irreconcilable.
This op-ed originally appeared on the National Observer.
After more than a year I decided to withdraw as an expert Intervenor at the National Energy Board hearing into Trans Mountain’s Expansion Project. I came to the discouraging conclusion that the Board was on a predetermined course of action to recommend approval of the Project. The Board did this by narrowly scoping its list of issues, removing cross-examination, and refusing to compel answers to information requests made by myself and most other Intervenors.
Corporations cannot regulate themselves. Their first priority is to maximize returns for their shareholders. Regulation is an accepted method in Canada to ensure private interest is not achieved at the expense of the public interest. Government steps in and establishes a regulatory framework to protect public health, safety and the environment as well as to attain objectives related to the nation’s economic and social goals.
Regulatory capture takes place when the regulator ceases to be independent and advances the commercial interests of the industry it is charged with regulating. The Board’s behaviour during the Trans Mountain hearing not only turned the process into a farce, it exposed the Board as a captured regulator.
The National Energy Board is fundamentally broken.
That was a point repeatedly highlighted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the 2015 federal election — and one confirmed for many with recent revelations that former Quebec premier Jean Charest had privately met with senior NEB officials while on the payroll of TransCanada.
Trudeau and his federal cabinet have the chance to change that: in June, the government announced dual review panels to assess the mandates and operations of the NEB and the country’s oft-criticized post-2012 environmental assessment processes (it also announced five interim principles until those reviews are completed, including a requirement to assess upstream greenhouse gas emissions although it’s unclear how that information is being used).
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.
By Chris Tollefson for IRPP.
The Trudeau government has recently announced a sweeping review process that could culminate in what has been described as “the most fundamental transformation of federal environmental law in a generation.” This review, among other things, will determine the fate of the controversial law that governs federal environmental assessments, known as the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA, 2012).
Ironically, CEAA, 2012, a statute that the Harper government radically revamped to be industry-friendly, nowadays has very few friends. Even key industry insiders admit that the legislation, aimed primarily at expediting the approval of major new resource development projects, has been a spectacular failure. Not only are many major environment assessments (EAs) that are underway under CEAA, 2012 stalled, mired in controversy, tied up in litigation (or all of the above), but more importantly, Canadians have lost trust in the way we assess and make decisions about these projects.
This article originally appeared on the Dogwood Initiative website.
“Oil to tidewater.”
It’s an industry mantra happily adopted by politicians — and even some environmentalists. But ask yourself this: what happens when you pump more product into an oversupplied market? Answer: the price goes down.
Who benefits from cheaper crude oil? First, the customers — like China’s state-run heavy oil refineries. And later, competitors with lower overhead, like Saudi Arabia.
You’ve probably heard these twin arguments before:
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.”
The B.C. government passed legislation that changes the boundaries of Finn Creek Provincial Park last Thursday, to make way for the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline even though the province has yet to give its approval to the controversial project.
In its pipeline expansion allocation Kinder Morgan requested the province redraw the boundaries of four provincial parks to facilitate pipeline construction.
Last week B.C. changed the boundaries of Finn Creek Provincial Park to make way for the pipeline that is currently undergoing review with the federal National Energy Board. The NEB’s final recommendation is expected by May 20.
“This pipeline project clearly threatens the values that this park was established to protect,” Peter Wood with the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), said. “It should never have been allowed to proceed this far, let alone be approved. Allowing industrial activity in an ecologically sensitive area like Finn Creek Park runs counter to the government’s mandate of protecting these places.”
It’s been a month of mostly good news for Enbridge and Kinder Morgan, the two companies pushing to build major pipeline projects from Alberta’s oilsands to British Columbia’s coast.
Quick recap: on April 11, the National Post reported that the federal government is drawing up a pipeline implementation strategy for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project and TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline.
Two weeks later, Bloomberg noted the federal government is reevaluating its tanker ban on the province’s northern coast, which currently bars exports from the Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. On the same day (April 25), Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement project was quietly approved by the National Energy Board, boosting future exports by 370,000 barrels/day.
Capping off the busy spell is the May 6 announcement that Enbridge has requested a three year extension from the National Energy Board for the Northern Gateway pipeline. The company is required to begin construction by 2016 according to its current permits but says it needs more time to lock down legal permissions and further consult with Indigenous peoples.
The reinvigoration of these pipeline projects come on the heels of a major lobbying effort by both Enbridge and Kinder Morgan.
This article originally appeared on the Council of Canadians' website.
If you follow mainstream media you’ve probably heard the argument ‘we need to get our oil to tidewater’ ad nauseam.
Be it Natural Resource Minister Carr, Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Notley or pipeline and tar sands industries, it’s a drum beat that’s building in intensity. As the argument goes, if we could only get a pipeline built and oil shipped, Canada’s crumbling oil industry could recover from its current woes.
Here’s the thing… it’s totally wrong.
I’m not the only one calling this bluff.