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.
In his 2015 federal election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed to overhauling the National Energy Board and review process of major pipeline proposals. Speaking to Kai Nagata of the Dogwood Initiative while on the campaign trail, he confirmed that yes, the overhaul would apply to existing proposals including Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain — but that never happened.
On May 19, 2016, the National Energy Board issued a report recommending that the government approve the Trans Mountain pipeline, subject to 157 conditions. At the same time, the federal government appointed a three-person panel to conduct an additional review of the project to help restore public trust. Hearings occurred over the summer of 2016. Critics said there was inadequate or nonexistent notice to affected First Nations and communities and municipalities ahead of the hearings. In Victoria B.C., hundreds of people couldn’t fit into the hotel ballroom where the consultation occurred.
In November 2016, Trudeau announced his government's approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Image credit: Roy Luck on Flickr.
Almost exactly a year ago, B.C. Hydro touted “broad support” for its controversial Site C dam — a mega hydro dam on the Peace River that would flood 107 kilometres of river valley, forcing farmers and First Nations off their land.
Now, as besieged Premier Christy Clark puts all her spin doctoring powers to work to attempt to save the dam from being canned, new polling from Angus Reid shows that more British Columbians want to review or cancel the project than want to let the project go ahead.
Those numbers are pretty remarkable when you consider that Site C is already almost two years into construction and BC Hydro has put considerable resources into quieting critical media coverage of the project.
One of Ottawa and Alberta’s main arguments in defence of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline — that Alberta oil sold to Asian markets will command a higher price — is a myth, according to a new report released Wednesday by scientist and energy resources expert David Hughes.
“My research shows that Canada’s oil is not being unfairly discounted by the U.S.,” Hughes said.
“Oil prices internationally and in North America are now nearly identical. That means Canadian crude producers are likely to receive lower prices overseas than in the U.S. because of the higher transportation costs involved in transporting bitumen by pipeline to B.C.’s coast and then exporting it by tanker.”
After three weeks of nail-biting, British Columbians finally have a clearer sense of what’s in store for the province as the NDP and Greens released their cooperation agreement today.
The 10-page agreement establishes the basis for the Greens to “provide confidence” in an NDP government. Translation: the agreement lays out what the NDP agreed to in return for the Greens guaranteeing to support NDP budgets and confidence motions.
And boy oh boy, is there ever a lot of gold in this document. Here are 10 of the biggest potential game changers on the energy and environment file.
This article originally appeared on Dogwoodbc.ca.
It’s a rare dose of honesty from a company with a history of bending the truth. Kinder Morgan filed a final prospectus last week with securities regulators, setting the stage for a last-ditch attempt to raise enough cash to build its Trans Mountain expansion project.
Now all the Texas pipeline barons can hope is that investors don’t read the fine print.
The company is essentially trying to crowdfund $1.75 billion through an initial public offering. Kinder Morgan executive Ian Anderson sounded confident in a press release announcing the IPO: “Our approvals are in hand and we are now ready to commence construction activities this fall,” he said.
But the approvals are not in hand, and a mandatory risk analysis accompanying the share offering makes clear how difficult it will be to start construction. Provincial politics, lawsuits, blockades by First Nations – any one of these could kill the Trans Mountain pipeline project, the company admits.
Kinder Morgan Canada’s president Ian Anderson may have misled potential investors in a statement released Thursday that claimed “execution planning is complete, our approvals are in hand” for the Trans Mountain pipeline, according to Ian Stephen, resident of Chilliwack B.C. and campaign director at the Waterwealth Project.
“We are now ready to commence construction activities this fall,” Anderson told the public this week during Kinder Morgan Canada’s $1.75 billion initial public offering — one of the largest offerings in Canada’s history — expect to close May 31.
But according to Stephen, Kinder Morgan is “misleading potential investors,” because the company has yet to receive National Energy Board approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline route through Chilliwack.
The company’s current plan routes the pipeline directly over the city’s aquifer, a source of drinking water for over 90,000 residents in Chilliwack and Yarrow.
“The key thing for me, and for most people in Chilliwack, is the aquifer. It’s our sole source of drinking water for one of the fastest growing communities in B.C.,” Stephen told DeSmog Canada.
Kinder Morgan is providing potential investors with shoddy information, according to a complaint filed with the Alberta Securities Commission by Greenpeace Canada last week.
The formal complaint contends the company’s draft prospectus — a legal document prepared for investors ahead of its massive $1.75 initial public offering (IPO) — failed to properly disclose future Asian oil demand and the financial impacts of climate policy.
It turns out that Kinder Morgan used demand forecasts that assume “business as usual” for oil consumption, which effectively means no serious attempt to keep global warming below two degree celsius.
The prospect of a new provincial government in B.C. has sparked fresh political debate about Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, which is opposed by B.C.’s NDP and Green Party, despite already receiving provincial and federal approval.
“There are no tools available for a province to overturn or otherwise block a federal government decision,” stated Alberta Premier Rachel Notley this week.
But is that really the case?
The short answer is no.
Provincial politics. There, I said them — two of the most boring words in the English language.
There’s no denying it. Provincial elections fail to capture the imaginations of citizens the way national or even international elections do.
Case in point: in the last B.C. provincial election, just 55 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot — 13 per cent fewer than voted in the last federal election.
The B.C. government is subsidizing the LNG industry to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars — and British Columbians are going to pay the price, according to a new report by Sierra Club B.C.
The report, Hydro Bill Madness: The BC Government Goes For Broke With Your Money, lays out the impact of tax breaks, subsidies and reduced electricity rates negotiated by industry.
“Power subsidies to even just two or three of the proposed LNG plants could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars per year,” reads a press release accompanying the report.
Two LNG export terminals have been approved in B.C. — Petronas’ Pacific Northwest LNG on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert and the Woodfibre LNG plant in Howe Sound near Squamish. Another 18 are proposed.
Both companies have been major donors to the B.C. Liberal party, which has ruled the province for 16 years and faces an election on May 9.
Malaysian-owned Pacific Northwest LNG donated more than $18,000 to the B.C. Liberals since 2014, while Indonesian-based Woodfibre has found itself in the midst of a growing scandal over illegal donations.
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.”