Facts and Recent News on Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline

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.

DeSmog Canada's latest news coverage on the Kinder Morgan Pipeline

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By James Wilt • Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 10:07
Oceti Sakowin Camp Standing Rock

The battle against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline could lead to the next Standing Rock and destroy any investment case for the project, according to a newly released report.

The report, commissioned by the Secwepemc nation and prepared by the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, is titled “Standing Rock of the North: The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Secwepemc Risk Assessment.”

Over the course of 35 pages, it articulates seven ways that Kinder Morgan Canada has failed “to account for the lack of political, legal, and proprietary certainty surrounding the pipeline.”

By James Wilt • Friday, October 6, 2017 - 11:39
Alberta oilsands

TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline is officially dead.

Announced via press release on Thursday, the news confirmed long-held suspicions that the $15.7 billion, 4,500 km oilsands pipeline simply wouldn’t cut it in today’s economic context.

But that hasn’t stopped commentators on all sides from pouncing on the cancellation as proof of their political project. Conservative politicians have lambasted the federal Liberals for introducing carbon pricing and new rules on pipeline applications, while environmentalists have claimed the company’s decision was a direct result of their organizing.

DeSmog Canada is here to help wade through the mess. Here are five things you should know about the cancelled Alberta-to-New Brunswick pipeline.

By Emma Gilchrist • Thursday, October 5, 2017 - 09:59
TransCanada pipeline

Canadian pipeline company TransCanada announced today it will no longer be proceeding with its proposed Energy East Pipeline and Eastern Mainline projects.

After careful review of changed circumstances, we will be informing the National Energy Board that we will no longer be proceeding with our Energy East and Eastern Mainline applications,” said president and CEO Russ Girling in a statement released Thursday morning.

The $15.7 billion Energy East pipeline planned to transport 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from western Canada’s oilsands to refineries in Quebec and Saint John, New Brunswick, as well as an export terminal in New Brunswick.

By James Wilt • Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 14:28
NDP leadership debate

It feels like an eternity since federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair received the boot from delegates at the party convention in April 2016.

The lengthy leadership race hasn’t exactly helped that feeling.

Most candidates launched their campaigns in February. Nine debates were held between March and September. But we’re almost at the end of the tunnel. Voting for the first ballot, via both mail-in ballots and online, commenced on Sept. 18 and concludes on Oct. 1. If needed, second and third ballots will be collected by Oct. 8 and Oct. 15.

While there are only four candidates left in the race — Guy Caron, Jagmeet Singh, Charlie Angus and Niki Ashton — there are an enormous number of combined proposals related to energy, climate and environmental policies (especially compared to what was discussed during the federal Conservative leadership race).

Let’s take a look at what’s on offer from the NDP candidates.

By Robyn Allan • Monday, August 28, 2017 - 10:13
Trans Mountain pipeline construction

When Prime Minister Trudeau announced approval of the Trans Mountain project he said the expansion “will create 15,000 new, middle class jobs — the majority of them in the trades.” 

Natural Resources Minister, Jim Carr, repeatedly points to this figure to justify Ottawa’s approval. He says, “the project is expected to create 15,000 new jobs during construction.”

Alberta Premier Notley relies on it too. “Initially we’re looking at about 15,000 jobs…” Former Premier Christy Clark said, “And then there’s Kinder Morgan, 15,000 new jobs…”

When the figure of “15,000” for new construction jobs emerged, I was confused. Kinder Morgan told the National Energy Board (NEB) that construction employment for the project was an average of 2,500 workers a year, for two years. It was laid out in detail in Volume 5B of the proponent’s application. 

Why would elected officials promote a construction jobs figure six times Kinder Morgan’s actual number?

By James Wilt • Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 17:39
Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain protest

The new B.C. NDP government has officially taken its first major step in attempting to stop the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

On Thursday morning, it announced it will seek intervener status in upcoming legal challenges to the federal approval of the pipeline.

The announcement helps to fulfill what was pledged in the now-famous NDP-Green “confidence and supply agreement” to “immediately employ every tool available to the new government to stop the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.”

Perhaps the most significant part of the announcement was who the B.C. government hired as external legal counsel for the process: Thomas Berger, one of the most renowned lawyers in Canadian history, especially in the realm of Indigenous and environmental rights.

Here’s a quick explainer about who Berger is, and what message this hiring sends.

By Guest • Wednesday, July 26, 2017 - 13:56
Christy Clark and Petronas CEO Tan Sri Dato

This is a guest post by Lisa Sammartino, the democracy campaigner for B.C.'s largest democracy group Dogwood. It originally ran on The Tyee.

Christy Clark rounded out her final days in office with a parting gift — not to British Columbians but to a loyal BC Liberal donor, Taseko Mines. The company donated more than $130,000 to the BC Liberals, and now they’ve scooped up Clark’s prize.

While members of the Tsilhqot'in First Nation were being chased from their homes by an aggressive wildfire, Clark’s outgoing government approved exploratory permits for the company to dig up their traditional, and constitutionally protected, lands — an area so culturally and environmentally important that Harper’s Conservatives rejected federal permits twice.

But then again, the federal Conservative party can’t accept corporate donations. Over here in the “Wild West,” Clark’s BC Liberals can, and did.

By James Wilt • Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - 12:21
Canadian Energy Pipeline Association integrity dig

Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) has quietly stopped requiring pipeline companies to post the geographic coordinates of repairs, DeSmog Canada has learned.

The federal pipeline regulator cites “public safety” as the reason for deciding to limit information on the specific location of “integrity digs” to examine cracks, corrosion or dents — but critics argue the decision compromises the ability of Canadians to access information about the safety of pipelines.

Often times, hundreds of integrity digs will take place in certain areas of pipeline, raising questions about the quality of that section of line, said Emily Ferguson, an environmental consultant and founder of Line 9 Communities.

When you see integrity data on a map, you can see these clusters of where there might be issues,” Ferguson said. “I think that’s something that is obviously in the best interest of the pipeline companies not to have that publicly released.”

By James Wilt • Thursday, July 6, 2017 - 15:45
Caleb Behn Canada 150

The massive “Canada 150” celebrations of July 1 are finally over, leaving little in their wake but hangovers, a multi-million dollar price tag and mountains of trash.

But for some Indigenous peoples in Canada, the festivities remain a visceral reminder of their continued dispossession from ancestral lands and waters. That’s especially true for those on the frontlines of megaprojects — pipelines, hydro dams, oil and gas wells, liquefied natural gas terminals and mines — that infringe on Indigenous land rights.

DeSmog Canada caught up with three Indigenous people directly involved in local struggles to resist such projects.

By Carol Linnitt • Friday, June 30, 2017 - 11:57
Horgan Weaver NDP Green Agreement

Nearly two months have passed since the polls closed in B.C. and at last British Columbians know who will get to form government.

On Thursday, upon the conclusion of a no-confidence vote that ousted former Premier Christy Clark, NDP Leader John Horgan has been offered the opportunity to lead a new B.C. government under a historic partnership between his party and the Greens.

While B.C. awaits the swearing in of a new premier, we thought we’d take the time to tally up some critical promises the NDP and their Green collaborators have made on the environment file.

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