If Enbridge is a No-go, Kinder Morgan Should be Too


BC Premier Christy Clark’s decision to oppose formally the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline means the project is all but dead.

The announcement, which came in the form of the BC government’s final written submission this morning to the National Energy Board-led review panel for the project, is only mildly surprising. Enbridge has suffered setback after setback throughout the multi-year review and even the Harper government – which retains the final say over the project due to the Liberal Government’s secretive handing away of provincial sovereignty on the matter – has backed away from its ardent support for the embattled pipeline builder. In recent months Harper has shifted his focus to pushing through the proposed Keystone XL pipelinefrom Alberta to the US Gulf Coast.

“British Columbia thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence and submissions made to the panel and asked substantive questions about the project, including its route, spill response capacity and financial structure to handle any incidents,” Environment Minister Terry Lake noted.

“Our questions were not satisfactorily answered during these hearings.”

That leaves one other major expansion route for the Alberta Tar Sands to foreign markets: US energy giant Kinder Morgan’s proposal to triple its pipeline capacity to the port of Vancouver. This would result in a twenty-fold rise in tanker traffic through the Salish Sea compared with the early 2000s, before the company purchased the old Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to North Burnaby.

“The position adopted by B.C. on the Northern Gateway Pipeline project as currently proposed is not a rejection of heavy-oil projects,” the Clark Government stated in its final Enbridge submission, leaving the door open to Kinder Morgan.

This makes no sense.

The basis upon which Clark rejected Enbridge – the company’s failure to meet five conditions established by the Liberal Government a year ago – applies equally to Kinder Morgan’s plan.

These conditions are as follows:

  • Successful completion of the environmental review process. In the case of Enbridge, that would mean a recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel that the project proceed;
  • World-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B.C.’s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines and shipments;
  • World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines;
  • Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed, and First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project; and
  • British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers

The Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, much like Enbridge, already fails in most of these areas.

The Coast Salish First Nations, through whose unceded traditional territories the pipeline and tankers would transit, have made their opposition clear over the past year.

Marine safety experts have repeatedly warned that neither the government nor Kinder Morgan are adequately prepared for a coastal oil spill. The company on retainer to provide these services, Western Canadian Marine Response Corporation, acknowledged at a Vancouver City Council meeting two years ago that it was certified to clean up a spill of 100,000 barrels, while these tankers would carry 650,000 barrels – possibly more if the company pushes to dredge Second Narrows and move up to larger Suezmax carriers.

The risks from the tanker route, while different from the proposed Enbridge project, are equally severe. These tankers would pass the economic heart of the province, its major population centres, its most important salmon estuary, important whale habitat, the vital farmland of the Fraser River Delta, the Gulf Islands, southern Vancouver Island and our political capital in Victoria. Throughout this journey, these ships would face daunting navigational challenges. Estimates for the cost of an oil spill in the Vancouver area range up to $40 Billion.

An oil spill on BC’s south coast would decimate our “Super, Natural BC” brand, which is at the heart of our $13.4 Billion tourism economy.

As for the economic benefits of the Kinder Morgan expansion to British Columbians…what benefits? A few dozen long-term jobs in the expanded Burnaby tanker terminal? Pitiful royalties and tax revenues for the province?

If the Enbridge pipeline isn’t up to Christy Clark’s standards, then the proposed Kinder Morgan expansion shouldn’t be either.


About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

2 thoughts on “If Enbridge is a No-go, Kinder Morgan Should be Too

  1. Thursday, 06 June 2013 15:55 posted by Craig Hill

    What happens if activists win and oil companies don’t get their pipelines? I took a precursory look at that here.


    There’s 300 billion barrels of BC jobs in the oil sands. There’s a global machine that needs oil lurking on the other side of those cardboard activist signs.

    I’d say prepare for yet another shock. Last year, the Frasier Inst. released a report on offshore oil exploration. This, I believe was done to soften up the populace for the next big shock from the Tories — off shore oil exploration along the BC Coast like the east coast.

    Then who needs a pipeline?

    Wednesday, 05 June 2013 13:42 posted by Damien Gillis

    Aloysius, look at the low clearance under the rail bridge, the narrow passage at Second Narrows, the rigours of Active Pass and the Gulf Islands, where an oil tankers and other vessels have run aground in the past. Heck, even this oil recovery ship that ran aground on its way to – and how’s this for irony!!! – an announcement by Joe Oliver about improved oil recovery systems! http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/03/21/bc-oil-spill-recovery-vessel-aground.html Is this Hecate Strait or Douglas Channel? No. Is it dangerous? Absolutely. Especially when you raise the risk factor by 20 fold and consider dredging Burrard Inlet to run Suezmax tankers. Downplaying these risks is simply foolish. You only have to fuck up once to create enormous damage in a critical place to our economy and environment. Risk not worth taking.

    Saturday, 01 June 2013 21:18 posted by Aloysius

    To say that “these ships would face daunting navigational challenges” is, I think, somewhat exaggerated as is the reference to 5-fold, 9-fold and 20-fold increase in tanker traffic.
    I look out on the Haro Strait and have never thought of it as the Skeleton Coast, unlike the Hecate Strait.
    Also, the last time I looked KM was talking about 250 tankers a year which translates into 5 per week in and out. Refences to a 20-fold increase imply that the Salish Sea will be busier than the Straits of Dover.

    If we are obliged to accept one project by the Harper Government then let it be KM, as the risks are significantly less the Enbridge.

    Saturday, 01 June 2013 20:51 posted by G.J.W.

    This I do not understand then? Why is Christy Clark giving David Black, $25 billion to build a refinery at Kitimat? How does the oil get to the refinery? China refused to have the oil refined in Canada? So who is the refined oil for? Don’t tankers from wherever, have to pick the oil up at Kitimat Port?

    So you will have to pardon me. I just don’t get it? A refinery with no pipeline and no tankers?

    Saturday, 01 June 2013 12:22 posted by tim arenburg

    why do we have to ship an unrefined product,let them build a refinery here then ship the finished product= more jobs=more income taxes=more money royalties on higher dollar value.let’s put Canadians to work. force the big oil to invest in Canada. does the oil not belong to all Canadians? I think it does, big oil will still make billions off of Canada’s oil. while we are at it, we are an oil producing nation ,should Canadians not benefit from lower prices? we should not be tied to world oil prices because big oil says so. if they don’t want to pay more let them leave, I’m sure Canadians could produce and refine the oil. Let’s put Canada’s resources to work for all Canadian’s. Win win for Canada and provinces. Canada has a very skilled work force here. put CANADA to work.

    Saturday, 01 June 2013 11:38 posted by Trusl

    Christy Clark Is no Longer The Premier. She got fired. Have no seat so what give her the POWER to Reject anything or shut anything thing down. Or less we live in a Dictatorship.

    Saturday, 01 June 2013 10:49 posted by b.

    I may be wrong but in my opinion this is just more smoke and mirrors by political party that has displayed a severe lack of integrity in the past.

    Saturday, 01 June 2013 06:55 posted by Chad Duncan

    The federal government has final say over this pipeline and last years omnibus bill gave the federal government the right to override smaller institutions for ‘the national good’. If Harper wants this, we have no choice. FIPPA is the only proof I need to see that this is still going to happen regardless of what British Columbia thinks or wants.

    Friday, 31 May 2013 20:38 posted by Kevin Logan

    Agreed Enbridge will not be built, but it does not mean it was not the most successful proposal in history.

    While everyone was lighting their hair on fire the Harper and Clark governments were busy rewiring the whole country and in effect handing it over to the oil and gas industry.

    Gutted EAs, environmental legislation and all other relevant laws, has paved the way for the success of all future oil and gas export infrastructure projects. All while the entire ENGO crowd was buzy accomplishing nothing at the Enbridge JRP.

    That is an amazingly successful strategy, the death of Enbridge makes people feel like they have a say, you dont.

    EPIC President quote: “The role of Canadian energy in the future of our country and the world is far too important to let this conversation fall by the way-side as another victim of political sensitivities.”

    Blacks Kitimat Clean is already supported by Clark and will be the Enbridge replacement.

    Kinder morgan will find an export home and maybe even refinery at Delta Port.

    And the ENGO crowd will celebrate saving the Greenest city and the Great Bear Rainforest, again.

    ITs a trillion dollar agenda and a feel good charade, “We beat the oil men!”lol

    Friday, 31 May 2013 20:18 posted by G.J.W.

    I smell, a big fat rat. Why is Christy giving our tax dollars to Black, to build a refinery? How will the oil get to that refinery? How many timed do people have to reminded of, what Harper and the BC Liberals have done to BC and the people? Don’t forget about Harper’s Omni-Bull-S-Bill. China can sue Canada if anyone blocks, China’s takeover of Canada. That should have been every ones first clue.

    What about Harper’s FIPPA deal with Communist China? China will take Canada over for a minimum of 31 years. Harper has given China all of the resources and resource jobs. China will also take, the timber and mines on Vancouver Island. Harper is bringing China into, the rich resources of the High Arctic. China has poisoned much of their farmland and 40% of their water. There will be swarms of Chinese over here. They will take our water and food crops too. Never will we ever be free of Communist China, ever.

    Harper is an old Reformer Fascist, of his Northern Foundation Party of 1989. Harper had hired, Wolfgang Droege as, security for Preston Manning.

    Harper is a monster of, the absolute worst kind. Canada is no longer a Democracy. We have no rights, what-so-ever.

    Friday, 31 May 2013 19:00 posted by Damien Gillis

    Semantics, Steve. Fortunately, I quoted them directly and linked to a more detailed account so people can interpret the government’s comments for themselves. My point is that Enbridge is dead. They would not go out on such a limb if they didn’t see the writing on the wall. In any event, my grammar is just fine.

    Enbridge will not be built. Nor should Kinder Morgan’s expansion.

    Friday, 31 May 2013 18:43 posted by Steve Thorlakson

    Did you ever study English grammar? They did not “reject” or “oppose” – they said “cannot support at this time” – why is that so mnay reporters, you included, refuse to acknowledge that fact. It’s intellectually dishonest

    Friday, 31 May 2013 15:49 posted by ron wilton

    Why after twelve years of complete and utter deceit, would we accept this ‘rejection’ as being anything approaching their real intent.

    Any ‘peace’ offering to environmentalists from the Lieberal cabal should be viewed with utmost suspicion.

    Leave us not forget the terms of the ‘Equivalency Agreement’ and the ‘Western Provinces Trade Agreement’ signed by this same band of thieves, under which the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline was Signed, Sealed and Delivered.

    Anything we hear now is theater.

    Friday, 31 May 2013 14:26 posted by Damien Gillis

    Yes – thank you for bringing that up, Susan.



    Friday, 31 May 2013 13:37 posted by SUSAN EYRE

    what about the 8 pipelines planned for the carbon corridor and the 4-5 new LNG ports on the west coast – what is happening there?
    ps. thank you for your reporting!!!!!!

Comments are closed.