Burnaby MP vows to fight pipeline expansion

Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart is vowing to do all he can to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.

As previously reported in the Burnaby NOW, Stewart was the guest speaker at a meeting hosted by Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion last Thursday. In what were perhaps his toughest words yet for Kinder Morgan, Stewart promised to fight the project and call a meeting with opposing environmental groups.

“If we stand together, we can stop this thing, and that’s really what we have to do,” Stewart said, addressing a crowd of roughly 50 people at McGill library. “I’m firmly on the side with the community that opposes this project, and I will do everything I can to stop it.”

Stewart also spoke about the latest developments with Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion and how people can get involved in the National Energy Board review process, and he distributed the company’s maps of newly released pipeline routing options.

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline has been in operation since the early 1950s, and the company would like to twin the existing line to increase shipping capacity from 300,000 barrels of oil per day to 890,000, pending National Energy Board approval.

Speaking mostly to a sympathetic audience, Stewart characterized the project as a “brand new pipeline,” rather than an expansion. Stewart also said the current pipeline right-of-way is 18 to 30 metres wide, and he pointed out that National Energy Board guidelines call for a 30-metre safety zone on either side of the right-of-way.

“There is a swath of land almost 100 metres wide that the company has rights to,” Stewart said.

(According to the board, digging in the safety zone and the right-of-way is forbidden without the pipeline company’s approval, but development can happen in the safety zone.)

Stewart said he would offer workshops to help the public deal with paperwork involved in making a submission to the National Energy Board.

Stewart said there were two main types of people who opposed the pipeline project: the environmentalists, who reject the line “at any price,” and the “economic folks,” who think the project is a bad deal and want a cut of the profits.

“What business folks are saying (is) we want a slice of this,” he said, suggesting the two groups work together.

Stewart told the audience that Kinder Morgan makes $5 per barrel, which translates to $5 million per day, and that the business community wanted a cut to the tune of $2.50 per barrel but that Kinder Morgan was only offering five cents. Kinder Morgan does not own the oil in the pipeline; the company simply charges customers for transporting the products. The NOW asked Kinder Morgan to confirm Stewart’s claims about the $5/barrel figure and talks of sharing profits, but no one from the company was available for an interview.

However, media relations staff Lisa Clement forwarded a February letter from Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson to Stewart to clear up various issues, including routing, displacement of landowners on the right-of-way and an “inappropriate and misleading” suggestion that Anderson would receive a $25-million bonus if the pipeline was constructed. (To read the letter, go to Jennifer Moreau’s blog at www.burnabynow.com.)

As for Stewart’s suggestion that the “economic folks” wanted a bigger share of the profits, Clement forwarded the following statement on behalf of Anderson in response: “I welcome the opportunity to join the B.C. government, other governments and key stakeholders in this dialogue to discuss economic benefits for B.C. associated with the proposed expanded pipeline. I am confident that with a collaborative approach we can find a solution that is acceptable to the B.C. government and the citizens of B.C.”

During the question-and-answer period at the BROKE meeting, all of the audience queries were sympathetic to Stewart’s position except for one gentleman, who challenged Stewart’s comment that the Enbridge pipeline project was going to use workers from China.

“I am a strong supporter of the Kinder Morgan pipeline,” the audience member said. “We need pipelines to export bitumen to China and the U.S. … We are forgoing massive revenues.”

The BROKE meeting was held on the same day Kinder Morgan hosted an open house and announced routing options for Burnaby. Kinder Morgan is mostly planning to install the twinned line along the right-of-way for the current pipeline, but in Burnaby, because of decades of development, the company is looking at building the pipeline down Lougheed Highway and then up to the tank farm and over to the Westridge Marine Terminal, where tankers fill up with crude.

jmoreau@burnabynow.com

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