Kinder Morgan files to triple Trans Mountain pipeline capacity

Screenshot from final application

Texas-based energy giant Kinder Morgan filed its application to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day this morning. The pipeline would carry tar sands bitumen from Alberta to the Westridge marine terminal in Burnaby. 

The 15,000 page application can be viewed in full on the Trans Mountain website. It cites fiscal benefits of the project, which would include $568 million of provincial taxes, with $309 million received by BC and $168 million by Alberta, according to studies by the Conference Board of Canada.

Screenshot from Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion application

Kinder Morgan Canada CEO Ian Anderson said the application "addresses provincial interests and concerns, including the five requirements set out by the BC Government for the province to support construction of new heavy oil pipelines within its borders." He said in a news release that he was "confident that the application demonstrates that Kinder Morgan can fully address" the requirements. 

Although the $5.4 billion project promises jobs and economic opportunities for BC, some First Nations and environmental groups say the risks outweigh potential benefits. 

"We haven't read the full application yet, but everything that we've found so far indicates that the risks far outweigh the benefits," said Liz McDowell, spokesperson for Conversations for Responsible Economic Development (CRED), a group of business owners and academics who recently released a report that the pipeline expansion would sink real estate values along the pipeline route.

"We're hoping there will be a transparent NEB process, and I hope businesses really look at the risks that come with the benefits," she said.

Pipe Up member Ian Stephen said his group was concerned with the increased infrastructure for oil exports through BC given its current effects on people in Alberta. According to IHS, a global communication company cited by Kinder Morgan in its report, the oil sands production in Alberta is expected to expand to 3.4 million barrels of crude per day from 1.77 million barrels per day in 2012. 

Screenshot from Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain application 

"In my view, there is no benefit that can make up for the harm we know has been done and continues to be done to communities downstream and downwind of the oil sands," he said. "The pipeline would accelerate what is already Canada's fastest growing source of greenhouse emissions and intensify infringement on Indigineous rights and title." 

Rueben George, sundance chief from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and vocal critic of the expansion, said he and other First Nations leaders were working to oppose the expansion. 

"We've had discussions with the Lummi Nation in Washington and other nations to get an international treaty to oppose all new tar sands pipelines," he said. "It's not just for First Nations, everybody benefits from clean air and water, that's something we all depend upon. If we win, then everybody wins, including Kinder Morgan and their future generations."

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