Pipeline panel hears varying views in Kamloops on Kinder Morgan proposal

The panel met July 19 and 20 at Thompson Rivers University’s Irving K. Barber Centre

Map shows the route of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby

Map shows the route of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby

Cam Fortems – Kamloops This Week

A panel convened by the federal Liberal government to take another look at Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline in wake of criticism of the National Energy Board (NEB) process heard last week from industry advocates and opponents about the future of Canada’s energy landscape.

The panel met July 19 and 20 at Thompson Rivers University’s Irving K. Barber Centre to hear submissions on the proposed twinning. In particular, the three-person panel will make recommendations on how to improve on the NEB review for major projects and what may have been missed by its review that concluded earlier this year.

“The elephant in the room is climate change,” said Kamloops Coun. Donovan Cavers, who spoke as a citizen and not as a representative of the city.

The NEB did not have a mandate to look at climate change impacts from Kinder Morgan’s proposal that would see capacity tripled by addition of a new line from Edmonton to Burnaby that would largely follow the existing route, which travels through Kamloops.

About 40 people attended the hearing Tuesday. Cavers and another attendee both complained about that they said was inadequate notice for the event.

Cavers encouraged the three-person ministerial panel chaired by First Nations leader Kim Baird to focus on climate-change impacts from shipping more crude petroleum products to offshore markets.

“I don’t understand the gold-rush mentality to get it out of the ground in Alberta,” Cavers said. “In all likelihood, the value of the commodity will only increase.”

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) presented a different case around climate-change impacts. Nick Schultz, legal counsel for CAPP, said other nations with far lower environmental standards will rush to fill demand if Canada can’t increase its exports due to pipeline constraints.

Schultz noted a number of climate-change initiatives and agreements the federal and provincial governments have recently signed, including the Alberta NDP government’s new climate plan, which he called “one of the most progressive in the world.

“Pipelines are needed due to [oilsands] construction,” Schultz said. “If we don’t have additional pipelines, that product will move by rail.”

The City of Kamloops has signed a deal to receive $700,000 in community benefits if the pipeline goes ahead. It has otherwise not taken a political stance, unlike many small communities that support it. Merritt Mayor Neil Menard said his community is an enthusiastic supporter, mentioning construction jobs that will come with the pipeline.

“The last thing we want to see in my community is the situation [Lac Megantic rail explosion] that happened in Quebec,” he said.

Merritt has similarly signed an agreement that will see it receive $400,000 should the project move ahead.

Cheryl Kabloona, local chapter head of the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association, accused Kinder Morgan of buying its way to approval, saying communities fear money won’t be there later if they don’t say “yes” today.

“They’re a way for Kinder Morgan to basically buy social licence. It seems to introduce an element of bias in the process,” she said.

Former Kamloops Liberal MLA Kevin Krueger spoke strongly in favour of the project, lauding Kinder Morgan as a good corporate citizen and pointing to its 60-year record of “spills without any consequence.”