Kinder Morgan Canada chief: Burnaby is ‘lightning rod’ of Trans Mountain pipeline debate

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Opposition to the TransMountain oil pipeline expansion is concentrated in three areas — the City of Vancouver, the Tsleil-Waututh aboriginal community and the City of Burnaby.

Keystone 2.0: How mounting opposition is threatening Kinder Morgan’s 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 Kinder’s 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 expansion’s regulatory review; and this week its municipal officers barred crews from surveying a new pipeline route under Burnaby Mountain that would actually reduce the pipeline’s 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 won’t talk to us and won’t engage with us and won’t 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 I’d 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 city’s 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.