Kinder Morgan meeting with First Nations in B.C.

By Chad Klassen
October 30, 2015 - 1:40pm

Kinder Morgan transports 300,000 barrels of oil from Edmonton to Burnaby every day. It's hoping to triple that capacity with a proposed expansion to the Trans Mountain pipeline. This week, Kinder Morgan is meeting with the local First Nations in Kamloops, discussing Aboriginal title and rights, environmental protection, and First Nations' economic participation in the project.

The Trans Mountain pipeline would run through 11 First Nations reserves in B.C., many of whom are concerned about the risks that come with expansion. The expansion would triple bitumen output to 890,000 barrels a day, requiring another 1,000 kilometers of new pipe.

Grand Chief Stuart Phillip says there is nothing Kinder Morgan can do to change his mind and allow the expansion to go through.

But how does that steadfast position work with the Whispering Pines Indian Band, which signed an agreement with kinder morgan last march. The Trans Mountain pipeline is already twinned through that territory and ready to go. If the project is approved, there are promises from Kinder Morgan of transfers, up to $10 million.

Other bands in the B.C. Interior, like the Lower Nicola Indian Band, are still undecided, concerned about the environmental impacts to its land. But Chief Aaron Sam is also using these two days of meetings to get a more clear sense of what Kinder Morgan has planned.

Meanwhile, Kinder Morgan President Ian Anderson is well aware of Aboriginal concerns in the region. He says the company is doing everything it can to work with First Nations groups and ensure they are being heard. 

Anderson says there is substantial support from Edmonton to Burnaby, adding there will never be consensus on the expansion.

The oil pipeline summit, put on by the Lower Nicola Indian Band, goes Tuesday and Wednesday at the Coast Hotel and Conference Centre in Kamloops. It's one of the final opportunites for local first nations to express their thoughts about pipelines.

The National Energy Board will hear from Kinder Morgan in mid-December, then the board's recommendation will be presented to the federal government in January before a final decision is made.

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