Kinder Morgan: First Nations frustrated by Trans Mountain "fair share" requirement

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The five “Requirements for British Columbia to Consider Support for Heavy Oil Pipelines” include:

  • A recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel that the project proceed
  • World-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems
  • World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response and recovery
  • Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights addressed
  • British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.

The province is looking into establishing a "polluter pays" principle, in which  industry that poses a risk bears responsibility for all related mitigation and response costs.

If Kinder Morgan's pipeline expansion is approved, the company will be approached to contribute in an industry-funded spill response model, wrote Lake in an email to the Vancouver Observer.

In the event of an oil spill, the government would expect Kinder Morgan to take on 100 per sent of the liability.

Kinder Morgan spokesman Andrew Galarnyk told the Vancouver Sun that the comapny was not suprised by the announcement that the new minimum requirements will apply to their expansion project as well. He said the company will work to fullfill the province's demands but echoed Lake's statements that BC's desire for greater financial compensation is an issue to be sorted out between BC and Alberta.

It's not about the money, says environmental lawyer

The "fair share" requirement and the government's rhetoric about offering consent for pipelines in exchange for profits sparked a fierce backlash from environmental groups as well as First Nations.

Staff lawyer Josh Paterson of the West Coast Environmental Law Association echoed the sentiments of aboriginal, municipal and former federal government leaders that BC is not for sale to heavy oil companies. 

"We don’t want to put our whole way of life here in Vancouver at risk for any price," he said. 

An Enbridge pipeline leaked 1,200 barrels of oil in Wisconsin last week, the latest in a growing list of oil spills the company has caused in Alberta and the US. The spill stoked growing concerns over potential oil spills from proposed pipeline projects and their associated tankers.

“Tankers are going to be dangerous whether they’re plying the waters in the north or in the south,” Paterson said, adding that the number of tankers traveling through Vancouver has already been increasing without any public consultation or consent from First Nations.

Since Kinder Morgan bought the Trans Mountain pipeline in 2005, the number of tankers in the Burrard Inlet has tripled. 

Opposition growing

Paterson believes Kinder Morgan will run into strong resistance from local citizens and First Nations in the lower mainland when they make their application for an expansion to the NEB next year.

A group of citizens who live near the pipeline in Burnaby are filing for intervenor status in Kinder Morgan's most recent application to the NEB.

The toll application made in June concerns the amount Kinder Morgan will charge oil companies and shippers for access to their pipeline.

Kinder Morgan does not own the oil that moves through its pipeline. 

Ecojustice filed a letter to the NEB on behalf of the concerned citizens who are asking for public hearings on this latest application. They want to ensure that toll decisions include consideration of external costs such as insurance for clean-up costs associated with any oil spill.

The letter goes on to ask why this toll application is being filed in advance of the expansion application.

“It appears that this approach is unconventional, and that in the ordinary course, companies generally seek confirmation of their toll structure and terms subsequent to receiving a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Board."

The company has taken an incremental approach to expansion.

Last year, Kinder Morgan applied to the NEB to switch its contracts with shippers from month-to-month to 20-year contracts, enabling the company to more readily justify the financial need for an expansion.  

In its first three years as owner of the pipeline, Kinder Morgan increased capacity of the Trans Mountain from 225,000 barrels of oil to 300,000 by adding ten new pump stations expanding a section that runs through Jasper National Park.

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