All five conditions met for B.C.’s approval of Kinder Morgan pipeline: Christy Clark

All five conditions met for B.C.’s approval of Kinder Morgan pipeline: Christy Clark

VICTORIA – B.C. Premier Christy Clark said Wednesday all five conditions for her approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline have been satisfied after coming to a deal with the company to pay between $25 million and $50 million annually to government for 20 years as the province’s “fair share.”

“The project has met the five conditions,” Clark told reporters.

She also said the environmental spill response and other issues have been resolved to B.C’s satisfaction. Clark said the decision to approve the pipeline was Ottawa’s, but that she felt holding to her five conditions for more than four years led B.C. to get economic and environmental concessions that otherwise it could not have achieved.

The economic deal with Kinder Morgan is estimated to bring in $1 billion over 20 years, which Clark said will be used to fund an annual environmental grant program that community groups can apply to for funding on environmental projects. The premier called it an “unprecedented” deal for the province.

Clark also said that B.C. has confirmed with Ottawa it will get “the largest share” of $1.5 billion in federal funds for improved ocean protection on Canada’s coasts. B.C. officials said the province will get at least $600 million of those funds.

The B.C. government also Wednesday granted provincial environmental approval for Kinder Morgan to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby.

Kinder Morgan welcomed the approval from the B.C. government, noting it was another important milestone in the project.

“Trans Mountain shares the values and priorities of safety, environmental protection and prosperity for communities that B.C.’s five conditions represent,” Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada, said in a statement.

The company had earlier said that the pipeline expansion – which will likely increase in cost – would need the approval of its board of directors headquartered in Houston, Tex.

The company has also said it is looking for a partner in the project.

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak announced the environmental assessment certificate Wednesday, saying B.C. has placed 37 additional conditions on the pipeline on top of the 157 issued by the National Energy Board earlier this year.

“Clearly, the project will have economic benefits for British Columbia workers, families and communities,” Polak said in a statement with Natural Gas Minister Rich Coleman.

“However, we have always been clear economic development will not come at the expense of the environment. We believe environmental protection and economic development can occur together, and the conditions attached to the E.A. certificate reflect that.”

The detailed environmental assessment summary is available here.

When faced with questions about potential risk to Orca whales and the environment, Clark said she believed the public will see a “really sincere effort” to mitigate any risks. But ultimately Clark said it was Ottawa, and not her government, that had the final say on whether Kinder Morgan went ahead.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the project federally in late November.

“This wasn’t a project that was ours to approve, it was the federal government’s approval,” said Clark.

“The Trudeau government and cabinet passed an approval of this project. Our job was to fight for the best interests of British Columbia. Because anticipating many years ago that this project likely at some point be approved, we embarked on a long, intense but very consistent negotiation with all of the parties to make sure we got as much for British Columbia as we possibly can.”

The government said it expects to generate $2.2 billion in tax revenue off the pipeline, as well as $19.1 billion toward B.C.’s gross domestic product over 20 years and 75,000 “person-years” of employment. Its deal with Kinder Morgan also comes with a clause that it will try to hire British Columbians first for jobs, said Clark.

Opposition NDP leader John Horgan said he continues to oppose the project, and it remains too risk for British Columbia.

The provincial process, and ministers, concluded that while the project will have adverse effects on vegetation, old growth forest, wildlife and wildlife habitat, that the federal and provincial conditions “will effectively manage” the concerns.

B.C. had to undertake its own environment assessment, after a court ruling that said it could not simply assign the matter on such projects to Ottawa’s NEB. However, B.C.’s conclusion on environmental harm could not conflict with federal law or federal requirements.

B.C.’s environmental process was left to build upon what Ottawa had already set, in areas of provincial interest and jurisdiction.

B.C. also received submissions from 29 aboriginal groups, with the common concern of the risk of oil spills and disturbance of traditional territory for pipeline construction.

The $6.8-billion expansion would twin an existing route from Edmonton to Burnaby, tripling Kinder Morgan’s oil capacity to 890,000 barrels a day. If the company clears the many hurdles still in its way, it could begin shipping in late 2019.

The pipeline still faces fierce local opposition from Metro Vancouver politicians and environmental groups, who say the environmental risk for a catastrophic oil spill in the ocean off the Lower Mainland is too great.

B.C. said in a news release the summary of its additional conditions on the project are:

– Consultation with aboriginal groups when development plans.

– A wildlife species at risk plan for grizzly bear mitigation.

– Management plans to avoid disruption for aboriginal groups using the land for traditional use, or for provincially-authorized trappers and guide outfitters.

– A worker accommodation strategy that describes the potential environmental and social-economic impacts of construction camps on Aboriginal Groups and communities and includes a plan to provide medical and health services for employees and contractors using the construction camps.

– An offset plan for any provincial parks or protected areas impacted by the pipeline.

– Reporting greenhouse gas emissions from construction.

– Created a research program on the behaviour and clean-up of heavy oil spills in water to improve Trans Mountain’s response to oil spills.

– New emergency response plans for notification, care of oiled wildlife, environmental sampling and details on how Trans Mountain would coordinate with the many players involved.

– An increase to Trans Mountain’s emergency preparedness, including full-scale drills.

– A First Nations marine outreach program along the shipping route to address the impact of increased tanker traffic on the Salish Sea.

– Provide opportunities for First Nations to participate in construction and monitoring of pipeline.

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