Kinder Morgan CEO slams critics, asserts that Trans Mountain will be built

Screen shot of Richard Kinder, CEO of Kinder Morgan, in May 2015 video by Urban Land Institute

Kinder Morgan CEO Richard Kinder said he is "astounded" by opposition to the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. He said if Ottawa approves it, the company will start putting shovels in the ground next year.

Kinder, the billionaire head of the Texas-based energy firm, reportedly said at the IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston this week that pipeline opponents use a "spurious argument" to slow down fossil fuel expansion. 

“I don’t know what the hell they are going to replace [fossil fuels] with,” he said.

“I believe that Canada, like the U.S., has the rule of law, and I think if you have a valid federal decision to go forward, the project will go forward,” he said, noting that at some point the "public good" should outweigh individual protesters.

"We intend to get it built. And we hope to see it in service in the third quarter of 2018.”

But the project has sparked significant opposition in British Columbia over the last two years. Last fall, over 100 citizens were arrested on Burnaby Mountain while protesting the $5.4 billion project, which would triple the existing Trans Mountain pipeline's capacity to 890,000 barrels of bitumen per day.

Although the pipeline is expected to generate jobs and over $300 million in tax revenue for B.C., the project draws opposition in part for the five-fold increase in oil tankers it would bring to Vancouver's Burrard Inlet. 

Kinder said the oil industry had to do a better job of "selling" its achievements, and that it had "done more as an industry to advance the cause of raising living standards across the world than any other industry." He said oil companies needed to do a better job communicating their work to the public.

“Sometimes I think we hide behind it like we’re selling cigarettes,” he said.

While the CEO assured that the Trans Mountain expansion would happen once Ottawa approves it, some mayors have questioned the ability of federal National Energy Board to make unbiased decisions on the pipeline.

"We're dealing with a federal government that does not plan," Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said. "They simply react to the whims of the oil lobbyists."

Corrigan, along with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, has been a fierce critic of the pipeline expansion project. He said the Kinder Morgan CEO's apparent confidence that the expansion is a "done deal" increased his level of concern, and added the National Energy Board is not capable of properly addressing the issues raised by the movement against Trans Mountain pipeline.

Meanwhile, the recent bunker fuel spill at English Bay has raised alarms about the capacity for oil spill response in Vancouver and in B.C. generally.

Corrigan said the response to the English Bay oil spill has confirmed the fears he shares with residents about the impacts of spills, and that the increase in tanker traffic is another point the NEB is unable to consider in their recommendation to the government. 

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