How Kinder Morgan Could Sue Canada In a Secretive NAFTA Tribunal

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline

All hell is breaking loose over the Trans Mountain pipeline.

On Sunday, Kinder Morgan announced it was putting all “non-essential spending” on hold until it could be guaranteed “clarity on the path forward.” That sent both the Alberta and federal governments into a near-frenzy — Premier Rachel Notley pledged to buy the entire pipeline if needed, while the federal cabinet held an “emergency meeting” (ministers literally ran from the media afterward).

It’s also come to light that Kinder Morgan could actually sue the government of Canada if it can’t build the pipeline. In a call with investors, Kinder Morgan chair and CEO Steven Kean said that it’s far too premature to consider.

But it certainly wouldn’t be unusual: between 1995 and 2015, Canada has been sued 35 times by investors and paid out at least $170 million.

It is extraordinarily easy for a deep-pocketed company like Kinder Morgan to sue Canada using NAFTA,” said Gus Van Harten, an associate professor at York University's Osgoode Hall Law School and expert in international investment law and arbitration, in an interview with DeSmog Canada.

‘By That Logic, We All Go to Hell Together’: Mark Jaccard on Trudeau’s Pipeline Talking Points

Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley

Mark Jaccard has seen it all before.

Over the decades, the leading energy economist from Simon Fraser University has watched as government after goverment pledge lofty climate targets and proceed to totally overshoot them: Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, Stephen Harper. But he certainly hasn’t been silent. In that time, Jaccard has authored dozens of books and papers based on modelling that points out the political hypocrisies and maps how to get back on track.

Now, his sights have turned to the federal and Alberta governments, which are loudly proclaiming that the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline can be reconciled with Canada’s international climate commitments.

Drink, Toast, Spin: The Latest on the Wine and Pipelines Debacle

Lana Popham

It all started with the Asti Trattoria Italiana restaurant in Fort McMurray, whose slogan is “Live, Love, Eat.”

But there was no love lost for restaurant owner Karen Collins two weeks ago when the B.C. government announced it will set up an independent scientific advisory panel to examine how diluted bitumen can be safely transported and cleaned up, if spilled.

Pending the review, B.C. said it would restrict increases in the transport of the substance — a mixture of thick unrefined oil from the oilsands and highly flammable gas condensate — through the province, a move widely seen as an attempt to stall the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Here’s What Alberta’s Wine Boycott is Really About

No, it wasn’t a weird dream, Alberta actually announced a boycott of B.C. wine on Tuesday.

The announcement by Premier Rachel Notley is just the latest move in an inter-provincial spat over the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, which would carry oil from Alberta to B.C.

It started with last week’s proposal by the B.C. government to guard against a potential oil spill. The province announced it will set up an independent scientific advisory panel to look at how diluted bitumen can be safely transported and cleaned up, if spilled.

Dams for Dilbit: How Canada’s New Hydro Dams Will Power Oil Pipelines

Dams for Dilbit: How Canada’s New Hydro Dams Will Power Oil Pipelines

The cancellation of TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline in early October had major consequences for a rather unexpected player: Manitoba Hydro.

The company had been counting on the energy demand from the pipeline, and now the cancellation is putting extra strain on a company already plagued by debt and in the middle of building an $8.7 billion dam.

Back in 2014, the provincial utility company anticipated that almost 40 per cent of electricity generated by its proposed 695-megawatt Keeyask dam in northern Manitoba would be allocated to “pipeline load” for the Alberta Clipper, Line 3 and Energy East pipelines.

Specifically, the electricity would be used to run pumping stations, which force crude oil through pipelines via a series of pumps and motors. Among those pumping stations were those that would move bitumen from the oilsands to New Brunswick through the Energy East pipeline.

But Energy East is now officially dead.

The Disturbing Double Meaning of Trudeau's 'Sunny Ways'

Justin Trudeau Sunny Ways

This piece originally appeared on the Dogwood website.

Sunny ways, my friends. Sunny ways!” For most people, that line in Justin Trudeau’s victory speech two years ago heralded a return to “positive politics” after 10 years of Stephen Harper’s icy glare.

It’s also a reference to tricking someone into taking their clothes off.

Q&A with Chris Turner on the People, Pipelines and Politics of the Oilsands

Chris Turner The Patch Oilsands

Chris Turner’s new book, The Patch: The People, Pipelines and Politics of the Oil Sands, opens with a story about ducks. 

Actually, in the context of the oilsands, it’s the story about ducks: more than 1,600 ducks migrating through northern Alberta died after landing on a tailings pond in 2008. It brought worldwide condemnation of the industry, and acted as a catalyst for environmental protests that are ongoing today. 

The Patch is the story of what happened long before, and since, the turning point brought about by the ducks: how the industry came to be, how it scraped by through its infancy to become the roaring engine of Canadian industry in the early 2000’s; how its cycles of boom and bust have built fortunes and shifted the gravitational centre of Canada to a once-quiet patch of Boreal forest; and how the same ambitious industrial vision that stoked the fire may yet snuff it out. 

Alberta Leadership Candidate Proposes Oil Pipeline to Arctic As World Aims to Get Off Oil

Trans-Alaskan pipeline. Photo by etherlore

As the leadership contest for Alberta’s newly formed United Conservative Party heats up, it’s no surprise pipeline politics are front and centre.

As four major oilsands pipeline projects from Alberta sit abandoned, stalled or awaiting review, one contender is proposing to beat the pipeline gridlock through an entirely new route.

It wouldn’t be through the west or east coast but through the Arctic — namely Churchill, Manitoba, the polar bear capital of the world, nestled in Hudson Bay.

Alberta’s Pipeline Regulation a ‘Facade’: Experts

Oil pipeline

The Alberta Energy Regulator — responsible for regulating more than 430,000 kilometres of pipelines in the province — has finally started to try to clean up its image.

In the last two weeks of February, the agency launched a “pipeline performance report” that graphs recent pipeline incidents, it levelled a $172,500 fine against Murphy Oil for a 2015 spill that went undetected for 45 days and it shut down all operations by the notoriously uncooperative Lexin Resources, including 201 pipelines.*

But critics suggest there are major systemic flaws in the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) that still need to be addressed if pipeline safety is to be taken seriously.

It’s absolutely ridiculous,” says Mike Hudema, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Canada. “You’re talking about a spill that went undetected for 45 days. And the company was fined an amount that they could likely make in less than an hour. That doesn’t send any message to the company. It definitely doesn’t send any message to the industry. And it doesn’t reform company behaviour.”

4 Reasons the ‘Oil to Tidewater’ Argument is Bunk

Oil tanker

Access to world markets for Canadian oil has been available since 1956 when the Westridge dock was constructed in Burnaby, B.C., and linked to the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The dock’s export capacity has rarely been used to its full potential in more than 60 years — yet the oil industry and politicians continue to make the argument that Canada needs new pipelines to get oil to world markets. 

Here are four reasons that argument doesn’t fly.


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