Kinder Morgan stops drilling, begins moving equipment from Burnaby Mountain

Kinder Morgan has stopped drilling on Burnaby Mountain and began moving out its equipment Friday, according to a company spokeswoman.

An application by Kinder Morgan to extend an injunction keeping protesters away from two drilling sites for its proposed oil pipeline was rejected by a B.C. Supreme Court judge on Thursday. It means the site must be cleared of excavation work by Dec. 1., the date when the injunction is set to expire.

Ali Hounsell, a spokeswoman for the Trans Mountain expansion project, said crews completed work Thursday at one of the borehole sites but the second one — set further into the woods — cannot be finished.

“We got started later on that one because there was some additional logistics with bringing in the equipment by helicopter. So the work had not progressed as far, which is why we were seeking an extension to the injunction,” she said.

Although the work is not done, Hounsell said the company believes it has enough geotechnical information to present to the National Energy Board.

“We will not complete the work at that second borehole site,” she said. “There’s a number of factors that go into that filing. In addition to the two borehole sites we did investigations on two adjacent sites. There’s geophysical information we were able to complete and engineering and desktop work. So in our opinion we believe we have sufficient information.”

She said the company may need to evaluate whether further survey work is needed on Burnaby Mountain at a later date.

The judge on Thursday denied the company’s request to extend the injunction to Dec. 12 and ruled that all civil contempt charges against the more than 100 people arrested so far should be thrown out because of GPS errors in the injunction specifying the exact location of the no-go zone.

The company admitted it provided incorrect GPS coordinates when it initially sought the court order. At one location, the coordinates were so inaccurate that the actual work site was entirely outside the area covered by the injunction.

Not only was the extension denied, but the judge, who had raised serious concerns about the GPS errors, ended the hearing by inviting Kinder Morgan’s lawyer to drop the civil contempt proceedings. The company then applied to have the cases withdrawn and the judge granted the application.

Earlier in the day, Judge Austin Cullen suggested the GPS errors would raise reasonable doubt in any subsequent civil contempt proceeding. The ruling won’t affect anyone who might be arrested for violating the injunction from now on or those facing criminal charges, including for assault and obstruction of justice.

On Friday morning, anti-pipeline activists were debating their next move in the battle to stop the pipeline expansion project. Karen Mahon, a Vancouver protester arrested earlier this week, said people were still expected to gather on Burnaby Mountain on the weekend, adding there is a feeling of empowerment among activists after Thursday’s ruling.

“We’re just trying to decide how best to make our voices heard. Kinder Morgan has made some mistakes but nothing really has changed. People still have legitimate concerns,” she said.

“You can’t build these mega fossil-fuel projects anymore without this kind of public opposition.”

Clean energy campaigner Tzeporah Berman tweeted that Kinder Morgan crews were “packing up and going home,” and called the court’s decision a victory.

Also Friday morning, environmental group Sierra Club B.C. issued a statement, saying the scenes playing out on Burnaby Mountain reflect British Columbians’ “deep-seated frustration” that the deck has been deliberately stacked in favour of companies such as Kinder Morgan.

“We are all directly affected by Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline and tankers. Climate change is not just relevant but central to whether or not we should be exploiting the tarsands and other fossil fuels,” said spokesman Tim Pearson.

“The federal government has systematically excluded voices that disagree with its fossil fuel agenda by gutting democratic participation. The National Energy Board process is a sham that displays a profound contempt for healthy debate and democracy.”

Trans Mountain was granted approval by the National Energy Board to assess a prospective underground route for the $5.4-billion expansion of an existing crude oil passage from Alberta to B.C. for export. The project would twin an existing pipeline and nearly triple capacity, from 300,000 barrels a day to 890,000.

You can’t build these mega fossil-fuel projects anymore without this kind of public opposition.”

Clean energy campaigner Tzeporah Berman tweeted that Kinder Morgan crews were “packing up and going home,” and called the court’s decision a victory.

Also Friday morning, environmental group Sierra Club B.C. issued a statement, saying the scenes playing out on Burnaby Mountain reflect British Columbians’ “deep-seated frustration” that the deck has been deliberately stacked in favour of companies such as Kinder Morgan.

“We are all directly affected by Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline and tankers. Climate change is not just relevant but central to whether or not we should be exploiting the tarsands and other fossil fuels,” said spokesman Tim Pearson.

“The federal government has systematically excluded voices that disagree with its fossil fuel agenda by gutting democratic participation. The National Energy Board process is a sham that displays a profound contempt for healthy debate and democracy.”

Trans Mountain was granted approval by the National Energy Board to assess a prospective underground route for the $5.4-billion expansion of an existing crude oil passage from Alberta to B.C. for export. The project would twin an existing pipeline and nearly triple capacity, from 300,000 barrels a day to 890,000.

ticrawford@vancouversun.com

With a file from The Canadian Press

Posted in Uncategorized.

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