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
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.
The speech Alberta Premier Rachel Notley gave to over 1,000 federal NDP delegates on Saturday in Edmonton’s Shaw Convention Centre was a stunning thing to behold.
In a mere half-hour, she received around a dozen standing ovations, cracked a pretty solid joke about Donald Trump and delivered a unabashed appeal for the approval and construction of pipelines “that are built by Canadians, using Canadian steel.”
But even more stunning was the fact that she completely failed to mention the rights or interests of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.
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.
Underwater shipping noise in the Salish Sea is likely making it difficult for endangered southern resident killer whales to find food and could threaten their survival, according to a team of U.S. scientists.
A new, two-year study, published in the academic journal Peer J, used underwater microphones to take 3,000 noise measurements as 1,600 individual ships passed through the Washington State side of Haro Strait.
The study site is in the middle of critical habitat for the fish-eating southern resident killer whales and researchers found shipping noise extended to middle and high frequencies used by killer whales to echo-locate prey. Killer whales emit a series of clicking sounds and then listen for the bounce-back echoes in order to find fish.
The researchers found the growth in commercial shipping has raised the intensity of low-frequency noise almost 10-fold since the 1960s and there is growing evidence that it is affecting the communication ability of baleen whales, such as humpbacks, gray whales and right whales.
The Harper government’s 2012 environmental law rollbacks were a blunt-force trauma to the environmental assessment of pipelines. And last week, the new federal Liberal government prescribed band-aids for an ailing patient that needed more.
On January 27, the federal government announced interim measures for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project Review process and the upcoming TransCanada Energy East Pipeline Project Review process. These measures are a welcome first step, but unfortunately still fall short of what is required to restore public faith in National Energy Board (NEB) reviews and environmental assessments in Canada.
The interim measures are part of the Liberal government’s mandate to “regain public trust” and deal with the broken process left behind by the Harper government’s repeal and replacement of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and amendments to the National Energy Board Act. These efforts to fast track approvals for proposed pipeline projects backfired and have brought public confidence in project reviews to an all-time low. Public trust in these reviews is so diminished that communities from coast to coast — Burnaby, Kenora, Montreal and Saint John, to name a few — have organized against proposed projects and regulators. This is unprecedented.
The review of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion has been plagued by a critical lack of evidence, members of a National Energy Board panel heard in Burnaby last week.
Chris Tollefson, lawyer from the Environmental Law Centre representing intervenors BC Nature and Nature Canada, said the evidence presented in the hearings is insufficient to prevent the panel from discharging its duty under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
“Fundamentally we say there is a lack of evidence for you to do your job,” he said.