Local Indian Band perplexed at government stance on Kinder Morgan

By Chad Harris
January 11, 2016 - 1:53pm Updated: January 11, 2016 - 5:43pm

KAMLOOPS — The British Columbia government's final submission to the National Energy Board says it is unable to support Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline expansion from Alberta to the West Coast. 

Environment Minister Mary Polak saying today Kinder Morgan has failed to provide an adequate plan to prevent or respond to an oil spill. That it has not met BC's five conditions for approval of heavy oil pipelines.  

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As a former Environment Minister, Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake, helped develop those five conditions and is disappointed. He says Kinder Morgan was aware of Province's stringent requirements. 

The company certainly knew that was our position, and through the NEB process they should've had the opportunity to demonstrate those world class standards, unfortunately they've been unable to convince the Ministry of Environment that that's the case," says Lake.

BC receives a fair share of the economic benefits of a proposed heavy-oil project. It's now up to the company to do what it can to prove to the Province, it can demonstrate a safe operation. 

"The ball really is in the company's court to be able to say look this is what we're going to do to make sure we can prevent and respond to any spill on the land through BC or on the ocean, because we know how important that is to British Columbians," says Lake.

The Whispering Pines-Clinton Indian Band has been working with Kinder Morgan for years, and Chief Mike LeBourdais says the community has a comfort level with the company.

LeBourdais says the province's position is curious to him. "I am kind of surprised. These are the same folks who let Mt. Polley open up again, so it is kind of six of one, half a dozen of the other." 

LeBourdais added his community has spent a lot of time with the company working on safety protocols, and has signed a benefit agreement as well.

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak says the company has not provided enough information about its proposed plans to double the pipeline to prevent or respond to oil spills in the ocean or on land.

Polak says the lack of information means the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project has not met all of the five conditions the province has established for any new heavy-oil pipeline.

The minister says the province has submitted its final written assessment to the NEB, but it continues to evaluate the pipeline project.

The multibillion-dollar project would nearly triple the capacity of the existing pipeline that runs from a community near Edmonton to the Vancouver area.

The energy board is hearing oral summary arguments from interveners starting later this month and is scheduled to make its recommendations to the federal cabinet in May.

The five conditions include:

  • Successful completion of the environmental review process. For the Trans Mountain Expansion project, that would mean a recommendation by the National Energy Board Review Panel that the project proceed.
  • World-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B.C.’s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy-oil pipelines and shipments.
  • World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy-oil pipelines.
  • Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed, and First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project.
  • That B.C. receive a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy-oil project that reflect the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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