CALGARY – There is nothing Kinder Morgan Canada can do to make its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion acceptable to B.C.’s Lower Mainland residents, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said Friday, as opposition groups said they would continue to fight the project okayed this week by the federal energy regulator.
“We’ve got a solid economy here that is firmly grounded in our clean and green brand, from tourism to construction and development and the tech economy, and we can’t risk an oil spill damaging that and affecting hundreds of thousands of jobs,” Robertson said Friday, a day after the National Energy Board recommended that Ottawa approve the $6.8 billion project, while attaching 157 conditions.
Among the conditions was that proponent Kinder Morgan submit a plan to offset the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the project’s construction. Other conditions require the company to submit plans to hire and train aboriginals and residents from the communities along the pipeline route, minimize damage to the environment and file an updated risk-assessment for pipeline spills.
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Angus Reid Institute executive director Shachi Kurl said even with the conditions imposed the opposition in much of British Columbia may be too entrenched for the company to change residents’ views.
Research from Angus Reid shows that 60 per cent of British Columbians oppose the pipeline project – and 40 per cent of the population is strongly opposed to the project.
“Having watched a similar decision and process unfold with the Northern Gateway pipeline two years ago, it seems unlikely. But time will tell,” Kurl said in an email.
Derek Corrigan, the mayor of Burnaby, the pipeline’s end point, and one of the project’s most ardent opponents, echoed that sentiment, saying “the conditions are meaningless.”
Robertson said the pipeline expansion, which would increase deliveries of heavy oil from Alberta to B.C. from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 bpd, offered “laughable” benefits to the Lower Mainland economy.
“There’s nothing the company could do to make this acceptable to the West Coast,” Robertson said in an interview.
The statements from the mayors of Vancouver and Burnaby highlight the challenges Kinder Morgan faces in its attempt to build the project through B.C.’s Lower Mainland, where protests in the past have disrupted work the company tried to carry out.
Kinder Morgan issued a statement Thursday night that it would continue its engagement process throughout the next stage of the pipeline review process, and through the construction phase of the project.
“We have demonstrated the demand for much-needed access to global markets and how building this pipeline will bring both dollars and many thousands of jobs for communities in B.C. and Alberta at a time when our economy needs it most,” Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson said in a statement.
The federal government will make a final decision in December, after an additional review is done of the project’s contribution to upstream oil and gas emissions.