Kinder Morgans attempts to continue its disputed Trans Mountain exploratory pipeline work at Burnaby Mountain faced another day of heated opposition by residents, city staff, and a local Member of Parliament.
The company maintains its work is legal, but the City of Burnaby does not.
I never cease to be amazed at what this company does in pursuit of its pipeline project, said Member of Parliament Kennedy Stewart in a statement.
The Texas-based energy giant is trying to do exploratory seismic drilling for its proposed $5.4 billion pipeline project, resulting from the new routing of its Alberta-to-Burnaby oil sands pipeline under Burnaby Mountain.
The company has been informing residents door-to-door and with letters about the incursions into Burnaby Mountains forested areas. It needs to clear trees and bore drill holes, for example.
Construction of the actual pipeline cannot proceed until the National Energy Board and the federal cabinet give it final approval — those decisions are not expected until 2015.
Trouble is, Burnaby’s Mayor who has long opposed the project says even the pipeline’s preliminary work breaks local by-laws because the activity is in a protected conservation area. He issued a stop work order Tuesday.
Its astonishing that, as a private corporation, Kinder Morgan thinks they have the right to override our citizens wishes and the laws that have been put in place to reflect the value our citizens place on these sensitive, irreplaceable ecosystems, said Mayor Derek Corrigan in a statement.
Impromptu gathering of 50 residents
So when local residents got wind of the return of Kinder Morgan crews Wednesday, a message was broadcast out via the opponent group BROKE (Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion). Within hours, some 50 residents responded and arrived at noon with a banner that read, No Kinder Morgan!
Kinder Morgans crews had already left, but residents still took their defiance as a win.
“It was really heart warming to see so many people come out to support the city, and the work stoppage order against Kinder Morgan. It was nice to see so many people take action,” said Burnaby resident Alan Dutton.
Kinder Morgan’s representative, Carey Johannessen, told CBC Radio that its quarrel with the city is a matter of a professional disagreement that may soon require the company to go to court to enable its activity.
The company recently got a clarification from the NEB that told it that companies have rights to access lands in these situations. It’s expected the company will return to the NEB for a more formal intervention shortly, said sources.
Following the departure of the companys crews from the mountain Wednesday, city staff invited local TV media as well as M.P. Kennedy Stewart on a tour deep into a secluded forest area to see the pipeline work already under way.
The group was shown chain-sawed tree stumps, as well as an area the size of a baseball diamond that was cleared, a Kennedy Stewart staffer said. A Kinder Morgan letter sent to residents indicates the company wants to build a helicopter pad.
Burnaby trees cut down by Kinder Morgan crews – photo by Kennedy Stewart.
Dutton says citizens major concerns over the pipeline range from climate change, to pipeline spills, to increased tankers.
“The main concerns about the pipeline are that there will be serious health consequences from the oil storage facility.”
“We also believe serious earthquakes, that can occur once [on average] every 25 years, can shake the mountain, and result in a serious oil spillage.”
“Another concern is the increased industrialization of the Burrard Inlet, with increased tanker traffic, polluting the water and air shed,” said Dutton.
Kinder Morgan’s billionaire CEO told investors earlier this year that its Trans Mountain expansion in Canada was the most important pipeline plan in its system, trying to deal with a burgeoning supply of new Alberta bitumen oil.
Keystone 2.0: How mounting opposition is threatening Kinder Morgans Trans Mountain project
The next fight over oil pipeline development in Canada is starting to look like Keystone XL version 2.0. This time the target is a US$4.9 billion project by Houston billionaire Richard Kinders energy empire.
Among these, the Burnaby, the end point of the 60-year-old pipeline owned by Kinder Morgan and home of its Westridge marine terminal, has spared no manoeuvre no matter how immature in its fight against the $5.4-billion project.
It has threatened to withhold emergency services in the event of an oil spill; it has refused to talk to Kinder Morgan, resulting in a seven-month delay of the expansions regulatory review; and this week its municipal officers barred crews from surveying a new pipeline route under Burnaby Mountain that would actually reduce the pipelines impact on the community.
As far as Burnaby goes, it is the lightning rod of the debate these days, Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson said in an interview Wednesday. The mayor and his council and counsel have taken the very firm position that they wont talk to us and wont engage with us and wont consult with us on our plans. They stand opposed. And any conversation with us is, in their words, a sign of weakness in their stance.
That is frustrating. That is clearly not the way Id like to do business or how I would want to approach any relationship. But they have chosen that path.
With Burnaby, led by long-time mayor Derek Corrigan, maintaining that its bylaws are more important than the National Energy Board Act, the matter will end up in court so a judge can decide which law prevails, Mr. Anderson predicted.
The citys opposition puts in high relief the toughest challenge faced by the project and increasingly by all major infrastructure projects: How to reconcile the national interest with local concerns.
We see it in British Columbia like nowhere else, Mr. Anderson said.
Kinder Morgan wants to boost capacity on the Edmonton-to-Burnaby oil pipeline to 890,000 barrels a day, from 300,000 today, so Canada can open a new market in Asia for its oil and reduce its dependence on the oil-saturated U.S. market.
But NIMBYs worry about the risk of oil spills and the additional tanker traffic. Greens worry about climate change and want to shut down the oil sands. Aboriginals want a say over what happens on their traditional lands.
Danger rugged steep terrain with drop-offs and cliffs. No access, the City of Burnaby map cautions about an area in the conservation lands which surround Simon Fraser University, atop Burnaby Mountain.
Now Trans Mountain survey teams trying to plot a possible pipeline route through the rugged parkland have gotten a similar warning from the City of Burnaby. The city issued stop-work orders to survey crews on Tuesday while RCMP officers looked on, and on Wednesday Mayor Derek Corrigan threatened court action to keep Trans Mountain from accessing the conservation area.
Mr. Corrigan said in an interview the city doesnt want Trans Mountain cutting trees in the popular parkland, which features both manicured gardens and a wild forest region crossed by walking paths, including the Trans Canada Trail.
Its habitat for a wide variety of wildlife It has a multitude of birds. Its used extensively for citizens to go hiking. It has become an essential part of the park system in the Lower Mainland, Mr. Corrigan said of Burnaby Mountain. Its not a place for a pipeline and not a place for these kinds of [survey] activities.
Trans Mountain has been trying to do work in the conservation area as it prepares a final route plan for the twinning of its existing 1,000-kilometre oil pipeline from Alberta to a Pacific terminal in Burnaby, B.C. The proposed pipeline is under study by the National Energy Board, which began public hearings in Edmonton this week with submissions from First Nations. Hearings will continue in B.C. in October and November.
Trans Mountain argues it has authority under the National Energy Board Act to access any land it needs to for the purposes of survey work. But Mr. Corrigan, one of the leading political opponents to the project, said city bylaws cant be overruled like that, and hes ready to go to court to stop Trans Mountain from accessing the conservation area.
By cutting down trees in our park you are directly confronting our bylaws, he said. If they think theyve got that kind of authority then they need to show the courts. He said a legal challenge would likely end up in the Supreme Court of B.C.
Ali Hounsell, a spokesperson for the Trans Mountain expansion project, said the company has not yet decided what its next step will be. She said survey crews left the conservation area on Wednesday not because of the stop-work order, but because city staff were in the vicinity.
It was a safety issue in terms of having folks, city staff, within the working area so [survey crews] were unable to conduct that work safely and so chose not to, she said.
Ms. Hounsell said Trans Mountain believes it has authority to work in the area, despite objections from the city. She said the company received an NEB ruling to that effect last month.
Were consulting with our legal counsel, she said. Back in August the NEB confirmed we are able to conduct the needed geotechnical, engineering and environmental [work] so thats our position at this point we understand Burnaby has a different position.
Ms. Hounsell said the crews cut down seven trees Tuesday; she wasnt sure how many more would need to be cut.
Sara Kiley, a spokesperson for the NEB, said the ruling issued in August, in response to a Trans Mountain letter, states the company has the power to enter into and on Burnaby land without Burnabys agreement. But the City of Burnaby argues that because that ruling was silent on the issue of municipal bylaw authority, Trans Mountain doesnt have the access rights it claims.
The city interpreted in one way and the company a different way, Ms. Kiley said of the NEB ruling. So at this point if Trans Mountain decides to pursue legal action I guess its up to them.
Follow Mark Hume on Twitter: @markhumeglobe
“The next fight over oil pipeline development in Canada is starting to look like Keystone XL version 2.0. This time the target is a $4.9 billion project by Houston billionaire Richard Kinders energy empire.
Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (KMP)s expansion of the Trans Mountain conduit linking the oil sands to the Pacific is facing the same kind of backlash that turned TransCanada Corp. (TRP)s proposed line to the Gulf Coast into a proxy battle against climate change. As with Keystone, Trans Mountains opponents argue it would boost development of the oil sands, Canadas fastest-growing source of carbon emissions. …
The environmental movement has realized that one front in the climate change battle is trying to delay or deny pipelines, said Jason Stevens, a Chicago-based analyst at Morningstar Inc. who rates the stock a hold. If it gets stymied out for a long, long time, its a big chunk of cash flow five years out that wont materialize. …”
(Directions: Centennial Drive (about 1/2 way up – take road on left at sign for Horizons Restaurant) also bus #135 get you close.
Wednesday Sept.3, : KM is back on Bby Mtn, waiting for advice from their legal counsel. They are not backing down.
THIS IS A CALL OUT TO EVERYONE WHO CAN TO MEET UP ON BBY MTN TODAY AT 12 PM, in the Horizons Restaurant parking lot.
MP Kennedy Stewart will be there to stand with local residents in opposition to Kinder Morgan acting in contempt of City of Burnaby bylaws. Helesia Luke is doing a major media call-out.
SPREAD THE WORD!= TO EVERYONE AND ALL CONTACTS, FAMILY FRIENDS MEDIA – EVERYONE!!!
From current Vancouver Sun article (print edition page A7), ‘Burnaby tells Kinder Morgan to halt work’ http://www.vancouversun.com/Burnaby+tells+Kinder+Morgan+conservation+area+limits/10169059/story.html
“Burnaby Coun. Sav Dhaliwal said in an interview that Kinder Morgan crews were starting to mark trees for removal and that weve issued a notice to stop work. As a corporate citizen, I hope they respect the stop-work order, gather their equipment and go away.
Burnaby, which opposes the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal, said the trees were being marked by survey crews for removal for the pipeline the company wants to construct between the Alberta oilsands and Burnaby.
This is an area protected by city bylaws and nobody is above the law, said Dhaliwal. They say they have a right to do that, but we say they dont.
He said Burnaby staff wont get into any physical confrontation with crews if the work continues, but that well monitor them.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said the city does not believe Kinder Morgan has a legal right to cut trees in the area.
We think that (NEB) section doesnt overrule city bylaws. Our staff will be back there (Wednesday) too.
Corrigan said the city cant let Kinder Morgan cut down trees and do irreparable damage in a conservation area protected by our citys bylaws. These bylaws represent the rights and values of our citizens and local residents.
We were prepared to allow them to access this conservation land for non-invasive work that could be repaired over time, but absolutely not to do what they arrived this morning to do to cut down trees to create helicopter landing pads and sites for drilling bore holes on this protected land.
Burnabys legal counsel Greg McDade said in a statement that Burnaby will seek a court order ruling. Kinder Morgan has not only damaged the Conservation Area in contravention of the law, they have also attempted to interfere with traffic on public roads and to obstruct park staff in their duties. The actions of the company are unprecedented, and they appear to believe they can act as if the rule of law doesnt apply to them.
Parsons Bell [KM spokeswoman] denied that a helicopter pad was being built. At no time will a helicopter land in the Burnaby conservation area.”