This Article is part of the Tar Sands Reporting Project special report See the full report

Encounters with the mysterious Kinder Morgan workers of Burnaby Mountain [VIDEO]

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Stevenson is referring to the 2010 Emerald Award that Kinder Morgan received for — according to the Alberta foundation that grants the award — their work in "maintaining, and in some cases enhancing, ecological and commemorative integrity in Jasper National Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park," during and after the completion of the Anchor Loop project that is one part of the planned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Many of the main sponsors of the Alberta Emerald Foundation are large Canadian oil and gas companies operating in the Alberta tar sands, including ConocoPhillips, Enbridge and Syncrude. The Foundation's current board of directors displays similar connections to Canada's oil and gas giants.

A CBC report from 2008 covering the Kinder Morgan restoration project that eventually received the Emerald Award quotes Stevenson as saying there was "a community of restoration specialists and scientists who [were] very interested" in what he and his team were doing as a precedent for the industry. It is in regards to his experiences working on this project that Stevenson then suggested "we had very good relationships with both Jasper National Park and with Mount Robson Provincial Park when we were there."

Did Kinder Morgan experience any pushback when they were working in Jasper National Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park?

"There was certainly pushback, but it wasn't of the same nature as this, no," he said, referring to the protests on Burnaby Mountain.

"I think different issues have come to the surface since we started the construction in '07, but we were studying it well before that. Obviously the climate change issue has ... " — he paused, considering, then just said — "... is large."

When asked what issues with climate change stood out to him, he answered carefully: "For me personally, and this is nothing to do with — I'm certainly not speaking for Kinder Morgan — but I think that we as a society have to look at what we want in the future, how we're going to develop."

At this point the Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Ta'ah Amy George emerged from the forest under escort by police, followed by a long line of arrestees and supporters, and the interview came to an end.

After the Grand Chief and Amy George were taken back up to the top of the mountain and the arrestees had finished filing down off the paths, Stevenson and his crew shouldered their tools and restoration supplies and hiked into the forest in the direction of borehole one.

An attempt at talking to another worker who walked out of the forest shortly thereafter and seated himself on the back of the Kinder Morgan work truck to light a cigarette did not prove as revealing a discussion as that with Stevenson. Presumably just off shift after working at the lower drill site, or at least on a break, he was dressed in blue coveralls and still wearing a white hardhat. When I inquired if he'd let me ask him a few questions his immediate response was a firm "nope." He took a drag on his cigarette then exhaled, a cheeky half smile on his face as he looked at me.

"Why don't you feel like talking?" I asked. 

He shook his head. "I don't talk much anyways."

"So why would you talk to a reporter, right?" He smiled and nodded, and that was that.

By 10:30am the next morning Kinder Morgan was already flying the last of its drilling and survey equipment off of Burnaby Mountain by helicopter. Now they are off the hill completely. For how long, though, nobody knows.

In a December 1st press release, Trans Mountain confirmed that it had filed its Burnaby Mountain routing studies with the National Energy Board. Interveners now have until 10 February 2015 to review and respond to the findings that Kinder Morgan presented to the NEB on Monday.

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