B.C. Seeks To Block Trans Mountain Oil Pipeline Extension

The new government of British Columbia has announced that it stands firmly against the extension of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline and will seek ways to block its construction despite a green light from the federal government, Canadian media report.

The Globe and Mail quoted the province’s environmental minister as saying that “Our government made it clear that a seven-fold increase in heavy oil tankers in the Vancouver harbour is not in B.C.’s best interests,” although the industry begs to differ. There have been warnings that Canada’s oil sands production will soon outgrow its pipeline capacity, causing more oil will have to be transported by rail—a riskier way of transportation than pipelines.

However, the regional government is dead set against the project, as the New Democratic Party promised on the campaign trail before this year’s election. Yesterday, Environmental Minister George Heyman and Attorney General David Eby announced they had hired a former B.C. Supreme Court judge and NDP leader in the province to consult on the best ways to approach the indefinite suspension of the pipeline project.

In this fight, the government is joining First Nations and environmentalist groups opposing the construction of a new oil pipeline. In the immediate term, Kinder Morgan will not be able to work on public land because of inadequate consultation with First Nations, Heyman said. So far, the company has only submitted three provincial environmental management plans because another five were rejected due to that inadequate consultation.

A Union of BC Indian Chiefs told the Globe and Mail that Kinder Morgan would be unable to proceed with the US$5.8-billion (C$7.4 billion) project because of the legal battle and protests.

Kinder Morgan itself seems to be still convinced there is a way to settle their differences. In a statement, the company assured stakeholders that it remains ready to work with the government of the province and obtain whatever permits it needs in order to proceed with construction.

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