Kinder Morgan defends spill plan secrecy

Kinder Morgan Canada will provide details of its emergency response plans directly to governments and first responders, but on the condition the information be kept private, said company president Ian Anderson.

The National Energy Board (NEB) ruled that the company is not required to make the emergency plan for its Trans Mountain pipeline public as part of the review process for its expansion proposal.

The company has been roundly criticized by opponents of the project, including the City of Burnaby, for not releasing the plans already.

Anderson said in a conference call with media recently that the information will be provided outside the NEB process to those parties needing it. Those parties will also be consulted in the process to update the plan to reflect an expanded system.

“Clearly, our interest would be in dealing with municipalities and first responders to provide them the information they need in order to undertake their due diligence and their response capabilities as necessary,” Anderson said.

“And therefore they would have be, one, an affected community by our operations, two, they would have to agree to keep those plans private within their city or municipality and not post them publicly for the same reasons that we’re not posting those details publicly.”

Anderson was speaking in a conference call to announce the company has filed responses to the latest round of information requests from intervenors, 5,600 in all.

“This round, the requests that we got, we believe were more relevant than the first round and we made a lot of effort to provide complete responses to intervenors as appropriate,” he said. “Having said that, there will be some information requests that were not within the scope of the hearing and we have said as much in our responses.”

The latest round of questions brings the total of questions asked to over 16,000. If necessary, intervenors have an opportunity to appeal to the NEB to request that the company be more responsive to their inquiries, Anderson noted.

“I think what parties will find is that the responses this round are very full and very complete.”

Anderson noted that Kinder Morgan’s emergency response plans for Washington state were released publicly by that state’s department of ecology.

“That has caused a bit of confusion,” he said.

“I think I want to reinforce we in no way want to have this perceived lack of transparency around our emergency response plans as any indication of us wanting to hide anything or keep anything a secret.”

There are “very real security concerns” in making the plans public, particularly the locations of critical valves and access points.

The broader issue is a need for industry and the regulator in Canada to define “who should get what how and when and for what purpose?” Anderson explained.

Due to security issues in the U.S., the protocol around how such plans are released is already well established unlike in Canada, he said.

“Those bridges have been crossed down there more so than up here and we’re committed to ensuring it happens here as well.”

Kinder Morgan will lead an industry effort to ensure a similar protocol is set up on this side of the border “so the public can be comforted that there’s no secrets, that nothing’s being hidden but that security of the infrastructure and the public can still be maintained.”

Burnaby-Lougheed NDP MLA Jane Shin, through whose riding the pipeline runs, doesn’t see the public having much comfort so far in the NEB process itself.

The B.C. New Democrats are calling on the province to undertake its own review process in addition to the federal one underway. The pipeline “does go through our parks, our schools and our residences … I think the province has a real right to say what makes sense for us.”

Shin agrees that there are security concerns about the release of all aspects of the emergency plan, but believes those are not details the public is necessarily seeking.

Instead, it’s “the reassurance and the social licence that the plan is acceptable and is done on sound evidence and it does protect the safety and the interests of our public,” Shin said.

Kinder Morgan is proposing to almost triple capacity of the pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby to allow for increased exports of oil sands crude to overseas markets.

On May 26, intervenors are scheduled to begin proving evidence and answer questions posed by the company. Oral arguments are scheduled for September and October. The NEB is expected to provide its recommendation to the federal government, which then will make a final decision within three months.

If the project is approved, Anderson said, construction would start in the summer of 2016 and the pipeline would be in service by September 2018.

Dix Says NDP Oil Tanker Stance Applies To Whole Region

Eric Swanson

On Earth Day, B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix came out publicly against Kinder Morgan’s plans to bring more than 400 oil tankers per year to the waters around Vancouver, Victoria and the Gulf Islands saying: “I don’t think that the port of Metro Vancouver … should become a major oil export port.”

Dogwood Initiative applauded Dix’s statement, given our long-standing campaign to halt the expansion of crude oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s coast. We destroyed our original B.C. election leaflets, which portrayed the NDP as only having a firm stance against Enbridge’s northern proposal, and created a new version showing both the Green Party and the NDP as standing up to both major proposals to bring more oil tankers to our coast.

Then, on Wednesday, Juan de Fuca NDP candidate John Horgan caused a stir with his comments to the Surrey News Leader suggesting possible alternative locations for an expanded Kinder Morgan oil port.

To say the least, we were concerned. Was the NDP open to expanded oil tanker traffic so long as the terminal was moved a little south? If so, we certainly wouldn’t count that as a strong stand.

Early Thursday morning, however, Adrian Dix settled the matter on CKNW’s Bill Good show, stating “We’re not going to become an oil tanker export port whether it’s in Vancouver, Delta or anywhere else.”

And in a later media scrum, when asked about Kinder Morgansending oil to Washington and then up through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Dix said: “I don’t see it as being a good idea for us to dramatically increase tanker traffic in this region.”

Adrian Dix’s statements – and those of Green Party of B.C. leader Jane Sterk – continue to reflect clear party stances against Kinder Morgan’s plans.

No matter who forms the next government and regardless of the promises candidates and parties do or don’t make, the Dogwood community will continue to relentlessly push for strong and immediate action to protect our coast from the threat oil pipelines, tankers and spills.

Editorial: Dix taking short-sighted stand on pipeline projects

[Ed. See the comment by Michael Hale below] B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix’s apparent nixing of the proposed expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby shows he’s gunning for the green vote in the coming election – and is not overly concerned about financial reality.

We say “apparent,” because Dix appears to have left himself a little wiggle room to reconsider the controversial plan at a later date. But he does put the NDP on record as being opposed to two oil pipeline projects (the other being Enbridge’s Northern Gateway line) that would undoubtedly bring increased wealth to B.C. and the rest of Canada at a time when our economy is still worryingly fragile.

And the billion-dollar question is this: If we in B.C. keep saying no to pipelines, port expansions and other resource projects, how are we going to finance our health, education and other social services?

As North Vancouver engineering company president Chris Sacre points out in a letter to our newspaper, Canada has been blessed with being a resource-rich country, positioned between Asia to the west, Europe to the east and the world’s largest economy to the south.

So why are we so reluctant these days to take advantage of this? Is it because we have lost our nerve to take on any risk when it comes to disturbing the environment?

“I marvel at the dichotomy of those who despise clearcuts, yet live in the city; despise mining and oil and gas, but drive cars and trucks and live in houses with wire and metals and building products,” Sacre noted.

We marvel at it, too. And we agree with those who believe it’s short-sighted to condemn port, pipeline and other projects offering high-paying jobs that enable people to raise stress-free families in this high-cost province.

We also agree with those who want us to consider the environmental legacy we’re leaving when harvesting and processing our abundant natural resources. Right now, though, our overwhelming concern is that Dix, without knowing all the facts, is already bent on compromising our B.C. young people’s economic future.

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Dix’s pipeline stance fires up election debate



B.C. New Democratic Party leader Adrian Dix’s criticism Monday of Kinder Morgan’s proposed $5.4-billion oil pipeline marks the latest twist in an election campaign that, for the first time in B.C.’s modern history, has the oil-and-gas industry emerging as a centrepiece issue.

Dix, already opposed to Enbridge’s $6.5-billion pipeline to Kitimat, stopped just short of condemning the Kinder Morgan plan to twin its existing line from Alberta to Burnaby. He has been under considerable pressure from the environmental movement to take a stand .

Elections fought on oil and gas were once confined almost exclusively to B.C.’s next-door neighbour. But the B.C. Liberals sought to make sure the industry would be top-of-mind when its throne speech and subsequent budget made clear they are betting their political survival on a rosy scenario created by $1 trillion in natural gas riches that the government says could be generated over 30 years.

“Politically, I think a lot of this is uncharted territory,” said University of B.C. political scientist Richard Johnston, an expert on Canadian elections.

The Liberals say the wealth from three to five liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants on the coast could vanquish the province’s $63-billion-and-counting debt, make top-notch health care affordable and even eliminate the provincial sales tax.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for British Columbia,” B.C. Energy Minister Rich Coleman gushed in an interview with The Vancouver Sun.

Playing against the Liberals’ sunny outlook is the argument from the industry’s critics, led by the Green party and environmentalists, that B.C. under the Liberals has a dirty future filled with oil spills and higher greenhouse-gas emissions.

Trying to find a politically safe middle ground between the extremes is the poll-leading New Democratic Party, which hopes to maintain its green credentials while ensuring the business community and middle-of-the-road voters that the party isn’t, as the Liberals argue, anti-development.

The Liberals say the promised bonanza could be put at risk given the NDP’s plan to expand the carbon tax and launch a study into fracking – a method of gas extraction in which a mixture of water, chemicals and sand is injected underground in order to crack rocks so that oil and gas is released.

The NDP is trying to hide a party split on the issue, and “if they go away and study it for two years they’ll miss the opportunity,” says Coleman.

But the NDP says the Liberals are glossing over the risks.

“The government refuses to acknowledge there are downsides to expanding the oil-and-gas sector,” John Horgan, the NDP mining and energy critic, said in an interview. “I think most British Columbians recognize there are downsides, and the challenge for the new government, whoever it might be, is to manage those downsides in the best interests of the public.”

The NDP’s promised scientific review of fracking will look at issues such as water and land use, landowner rights and the effect of LNG expansion on B.C.’s greenhouse gas emission target.

The NDP has also vowed to broaden the carbon tax on oil and gas emissions, which will result in a corporate revenue rise from $35 million in 2014-15 to $100 million in 2016-17. An NDP government would also work with First Nations to develop renewable energy sources, such as wind, to help power LNG plants, which are now expected to be run primarily by the burning of natural gas.

B.C. pollster Evi Mustel describes oil and gas as a “watershed” issue that presents risks for the Liberals and NDP. Despite strong and vocal opposition, many British Columbians support the industry if economic benefits are apparent, according to Mustel.

“From the research we have been conducting, economic issues are still the top issue and the NDP’s success will depend on their ability to convince voters that their policies will not impede economic development,” she said.

The Liberals, in turn, can’t come across as a “drill baby drill” party because women 35 and older tend to be more opposed to the industry, “and these are the very voters Liberals need to attract to have a chance of winning.”

Present and future natural gas activity in B.C. is confined largely to five of B.C.’s 85 provincial ridings – Peace River North and Peace River South, two small-c conservative ridings held by Liberals that are the focus of drilling activity; and Stikine, Skeena and North Coast, NDP ridings that proposed gas and bitumen pipelines would traverse en route to ports in Kitimat and Prince Rupert.

But many more rural and urban ridings are along the route of the two hugely controversial proposed megaprojects .

The Northern Gateway pipeline crosses only four ridings from Peace River South to Skeena. But ForestEthics spokesman Ben West counts 15 B.C. ridings along the Kinder Morgan route that runs from the Prince George-Valemount riding at the Alberta border, down through the two Kamloops ridings to the Fraser Valley, and then through a number of Lower Mainland ridings.

And of course B.C., always Canada’s hotbed of environmentalism, has numerous citizens throughout the province who care deeply about the planet – and plenty of others frustrated by what they view as the green movement’s antidevelopment bias.

The two main parties, while largely bullish on gas exports, both recognize the hyper-sensitivity of the more explosive oil-sands pipeline issue.

Clark has said the province won’t give the nod to the Enbridge or Kinder Morgan projects unless there are “world class” environmental and safety measures, aboriginal rights protection, and more financial benefits for B.C.

Dix, meanwhile, has given a flat “no” to Enbridge and, on Monday, indicated his government is unlikely to support Kinder Morgan’s expansion until the company launches a formal process before the National Energy Board.

UBC’s Johnston predicts the NDP will prove it has found the political sweet spot when British Columbians vote.

“I’ll bet that Horgan does represent the electoral middle ground: environmentally aware but not implacably opposed to job-creating resource development where the economic benefits are largely contained within the province.”

The Liberals have so far tried and failed to use energy as a wedge to win back voters, said pollster Mario Canseco of Angus Reid Public Opinion. Neither the 2012 conditions on oilsands pipelines nor the throne speech and budget touting energy riches gave the party a bounce.

He said the issue could have its biggest political impact on Vancouver Island, where two Liberal-held ridings – Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Saanich North – could potentially go to the Green party.

B.C.’s two other main parties, the Greens and the Conservatives, are also trying to carve out a niche.

Green leader Jane Sterk argued that there is no daylight between the Liberals and NDP on natural gas development.

The Greens, opposed to both the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan projects, take by far the toughest stand on fracking, saying there must be a moratorium on further drilling until a credible environmental assessment is done.

And the Greens, if they elect MLAs to the legislature, will advocate that LNG plants be run entirely on renewable energy rather than natural gas, which is the current plan.

The B.C. Conservatives are positioning themselves as the most pro-development party, strongly supporting the Northern Gateway pipeline and vowing to repeal the Liberal carbon tax.

But leader John Cummins, who as an MP won praise from environmentalists due to his stand against salmon farming, also speaks to concerns about fracking.

The Conservatives want the next B.C. government to push the province’s Oil and Gas Commission to impose fines on rule-breakers, according to Scott Anderson, a Conservative candidate in Vernon and chairman of the party’s public finance committee.

Anderson said his party wants to protect property owners concerned about the growing number of abandoned wells and the potential danger of those wells and possible water contamination from fracking.

Some environmental groups, meanwhile, have organized hundreds of volunteers to go door-to-door and work on phone banks to help elect – and increase the victory margins of – NDP candidates deemed to be much greener than Horgan.

Ben West, an anti-oilsands campaigner with ForestEthics, said with the NDP is so far ahead, the “real race” is over who will wield influence in caucus.

ForestEthics is specifically backing former Sierra Club of B.C. executive director George Heyman in Vancouver-Fairview, Janet Routledge (an employee with the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation) in North Coast, and human rights lawyer David Eby, who will try for the second time to defeat Clark in the Vancouver-Point Grey riding after coming a close second in the 2011 byelection.

The Business Council of B.C., meanwhile, said any government aiming to fiddle with the natural gas sector has to recognize that multinational corporations planning to spend “tens of billions of dollars” on LNG projects will require a “competitive and stable” fiscal regime.

“British Columbia has a lot riding on the development of the LNG sector,” said executive vice-president Jock Finlayson.

“Not only can LNG provide an important new source of export earnings, government revenue and overall economic growth, but the hard reality is that the province needs to find new markets for its abundant natural gas as the United States inexorably moves toward self-sufficiency in the commodity.”

That argument doesn’t move people like Mary Hatch, one of the grassroots British Columbians working with professional environmentalists in this campaign.

Hatch’s world view was indelibly changed in 2007 when a Kinder Morgan pipeline pierced by a contractor’s backhoe sprayed her home and others near it on Inlet Drive in north Burnaby with synthetic crude oil.

Her house, her lawn and her car were covered with the geyser’s goo. Kinder Morgan covered the cleanup costs and the company, along with two contractors involved, were together hit with $550,000 in penalties.

She and other Burnaby residents formed a group called BROKE – Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion – which has been waging an apparently successful battle to get the NDP off the fence on the Kinder Morgan project.

The retired teacher, 67, has a broader lack of sympathy with the oil-and-gas industry, arguing that it creates few jobs in B.C. and only enriches energy companies.

More than 1,200 kilometres to the north, in Fort St. John in the heart of B.C.’s natural gas boom, Mayor Lori Ackerman doesn’t like the way some British Columbians – especially the environmental groups – are using the wealth of her region as a political football.

“The people of northeast B.C. are very hard-working, and they understand the importance of the environment because that’s their playground as well,” she said.

“So to have people say to us from North America’s largest clear-cut area that they don’t want oil and gas, well, I guess the question back is, ‘what are your bike lanes made of? Asphalt. And what’s in there?’

“People have to become energy literate. They have to understand that those towers in downtown Vancouver aren’t made out of pixie dust. It’s cement and steel. How are those brought into town? How are they made?”


Until now a background issue, party positions on B.C.’s natural gas development and oil pipelines have become central points in the 2013 general election

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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Dix against pipeline proposal

Adrian Dix, the British Columbia premier hopeful, won’t support a current plan to twin an oil pipeline leading into Burnaby, sparking concern a ruling BC NDP wouldn’t respect government procedure. The Trans-Mountain Pipeline, running from Edmonton to Burnaby, has been operating since the 1950s. Its current owner, Texas-based Kinder Morgan, wants to double the pipeline’s capacity to accommodate the export of raw bitumen oil and other products.

Cleanup efforts seen after a 2007 oil pipeline rupture in Burnaby. BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix says he doesn’t support a plan to twin the same line.

The plan has been contentious in part due to a 2007 spill in north Burnaby after an excavator ruptured the pipeline, spewing more than 200,000 litres of oil into the neighbourhood and Burrard Inlet.

The twinning proposal is currently in the pre-application phase, but Dix, who has previously been non-committal on the subject, said he doesn’t support the plan the way it now sits.

“Our position is pretty clear that we do not expect Vancouver to become a major oil export port as appears to be suggested in what Kinder Morgan is proposing,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rich Coleman, the BC Liberal Energy Minister, said Dix’s comments show a lack of respect for the application process and suggests the BC NDP will make arbitrary decisions on major issues if elected.

“It sends an interesting message to people who want to do business in B.C.,” Coleman said. “If you’re a natural gas company, you want to build a pipeline, will he change his mind midstream before you actually end your process?”

He said Kinder Morgan’s application must happen before the government can make decisions about the project.

Dix’s comments were welcomed by Alan Dutton of Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion, a groupformedafterthe2007spill.

“This is a surprise, but a very welcome surprise,” he said. “Wethinkthattheactionofthe NDP is entirely appropriate.”
Kinder Morgan said it is “confident” it will answer any questions or concerns about the proposal through its application and is willing to work with all levels of government.