Trans Mountain Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion opposed by BC government

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Formal rejection announced after conditions not met

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer

On January 11, the BC government formally announced their opposition in letter form to the controversial Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion to the National Energy Board, which is based in Calgary.

This letter cited failure to meet several outlined conditions. These conditions—which included oil spill prevention systems and collaboration with local First Nations—were first outlined in 2012. A major factor in the public position involved Kinder Morgan’s perceived lack of response to environmental damage. Specific criticism included lack of leak prevention and a delayed cleanup response and public notification.

The announcement was heavily praised by other anti-pipeline groups, including the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, North Shore NOPE (No Pipeline Expansion), and the BC chapter of the environmental non-profit Sierra Club. In a press statement, Sierra Club’s spokesperson Larissa Stendie stated that the BC government “put themselves on the right side of history… We congratulate [the government] for recognizing the serious threats to our economy, our environment, and our climate posed by Kinder Morgan’s proposal… What we need is fewer pipelines and more solar panels, less fracking, and more wind turbines. Premier Clark’s government can lead by shifting towards a thriving post-carbon economy that provides more well-paying jobs and helps keep the planet within 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.”

The BC government’s letter is the first of many such formal rejections expected in the near future. Oral presentations to the National Energy Board are scheduled to take place between January 22–27, and will include members of the Squamish Nation and North Shore NOPE.

Kinder Morgan responded in a press release that they are confident they can work with the province to meet the five goals by the time a final decision is processed. The announcement suggests that the BC government letter is not a definitive “no,” but rather a temporary rejection at this point in time.

Discussions continue to be held between all invested groups, including residents of Merritt and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, where the pipeline is scheduled to be built. Economically, the Merritt area and the province as a whole stands to gain heavily from the project, as $419 million is expected to be spent on construction in Merritt alone.

The National Energy Board is projected to make a formal endorsement or rejection of the project by May, which will be forwarded to the federal government. The federal Liberal government has supported the expansion under certain conditions, and will make the final decision. Spokesperson for North Shore NOPE Janice Edmonds has criticized this platform.

“They should change it right now,” said Edmonds in a press statement. “Trudeau promised he wouldn’t go ahead with any project that didn’t have social licence. He told us he would not go forward with that.”