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With National Energy Board (NEB) hearings next week January 19-29, the Province of B.C. has released a statement saying that it does not support Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion project at this time.
The proposed project would expand the existing Trans Mountain pipeline system between Edmonton, A.B. and Burnaby, B.C. by installing nearly 1,000km of new pipeline. It would also include new and updated facilities such as tanks and pump stations, while also reactivating pipeline segments that currently aren't in use.
Since 2012, B.C.'s government has remained firm in its five requirements it needs Kinder Morgan to meet in order to gain provincial support. While preparing its final submission to the NEB on the project, the province stated the company had not provided enough information on how they will meet these requirements, leading to their inability to support it.
The outlined requirements include:
Successful completion of an environmental review process from the NEB
World-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B.C.'s coastline and ocean
World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention and response systems to manage risks and costs of heavy-oil pipelines
Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights and that First Nations are provided with opportunities and resources to participate in the project
That B.C. receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits from the project
Environmental groups such as ForestEthics and The Wilderness Committee have commended the province's response.
"The B.C. government created a simple test that Kinder Morgan simply fails," says ForestEthics Advocacy campaign organizer, Sven Biggs. "The five conditions the Texas oil company must meet before B.C. will approve the Trans Mountain pipeline proposal are critical for protecting public safety, the health of Vancouver citizens, the rights of First Nations, and whale and other marine species."
The project certainly hasn't been short of criticism, not just from these environmental groups but from concerned citizens as well. In fact, it was during the research phase for this proposal that over one hundred protestors were arrested at Burnaby Mountain as they took a stand against Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain project in 2014.
Even with these critiques and the province's formal opposition to the project, Trans Mountain remains confident that "it will be able to satisfy B.C.'s five Conditions by the time the regulatory process is complete."
This confidence is in spite of the fact that, in the same statement, Trans Mountains insisted that they "alone cannot satisfy" several of the province's requirements, suggesting that some "require multiple parties to come to the table and work together."
As part of this regulatory process, NEB's hearing panel begins in Burnaby, B.C. next week, after which it moves to Calgary, A.B. from Feb 2-5. Three members of the NEB Board will review the project, taking into consideration 12 issues including environmental and socio-economic effects, impacts on Aboriginal communities and contingency plans in case of oil spills.
Even without the province's support, the project could still progress if Kinder Morgan receives approval from the NEB review panel.
"B.C. has said the risk is too great. Now it's left to the National Energy Board and the federal government to follow suit and reject the project outright," says Wilderness Committee's climate campaigner, Peter McCartney. "This pipeline puts our climate and our coast in peril and that's why it is an unacceptable risk to British Columbians."
Photo: flickr/ Mark Klotz
Alyse Kotyk is a Vancouver-based writer and editor with a passion for social justice and storytelling. She studied English Literature and Global Development at Queen's University and is excited by media that digs deep, asks questions and shares narratives. Alyse was the Editor of Servants Quarters and has written for the Queen's News Centre, Quietly Media and the Vancouver Observer. She is now rabble's News Intern.