The National Energy Board’s review of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion will likely go back to the drawing board following the Liberals’ majority win on Monday.
Terry Beech, the newly elected Liberal in Burnaby North-Seymour, told the Burnaby Now there will be no decision on the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion in January.
“We are going to redo the National Energy Board process. We’re going to broaden the scope. We’re going to make sure it’s objective, fair and based on science. We’re going to make sure proponents of any major energy projects, including Kinder Morgan, have to work towards getting community support and support from partner First Nations,” he said, reiterating pre-election promises. “We’ve already said there will be no decision on Kinder Morgan in January. Kinder Morgan will have to go through a new, revised process.”
Beech said the pipeline will be one of the major issues he’ll work on as an MP. He also said he will start by reaching out to Kinder Morgan, local mayors, councillors and MLAs, as well as different community groups, including the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, to discuss moving forward on the issue.
The National Energy Board’s original deadline for a final recommendation on the $5.4-billion proposal was Jan. 25, but it was then delayed to May 20 because of a conflict of interest over evidence supplied by an oil industry consultant who was later appointed to the NEB.
Thanks to changes from the previous Conservative government, Cabinet has the power to override the NEB’s recommendations on major oil projects. Whether the newly elected Liberals change that remains to be seen.
Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson was not granting media interviews after Monday’s election results. Communications staffer Lisa Clement could only offer an emailed statement from Anderson but said there may be more information in the coming weeks.
“Kinder Morgan Canada continues to advance its application for expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline with the National Energy Board, which is scheduled by the NEB to be completed in May of 2016,” the statement reads. “We look forward to briefing the new federal Liberal government about our project in the days ahead and working constructively with them to build important market access capacity while respecting the environment and First Nations.”
Kinder Morgan wants to nearly triple the Trans Mountain pipeline’s capacity and expand the local Westridge Marine Terminal and Burnaby Mountain tank farm. The project would see Burrard Inlet marine traffic grow from five to 34 tankers a month. The Kinder Morgan pipeline terminus ends in the Burnaby North-Seymour riding, which Liberal Terry Beech won on Monday with a handy 3,500 vote lead on the NDP candidate.
National Energy Board spokesman Craig Loewen said the Liberal majority doesn’t change anything for the pipeline at the moment because the process the board follows falls under a legislated mandate.
“That doesn’t change unless the legislation changes or we’re ordered to do things differently,” he explained. “The reality is there were a lot of things said in the campaign. No one’s even been sworn in yet. ... We just have to wait and see.”
New Democrat Kennedy Stewart, now the MP in Burnaby South, said he thinks the pipeline will go ahead under the Liberals’ watch.
“I think in the end, under Prime Minister Trudeau, (the new government) will in one way or another approve the Kinder Morgan pipeline whether it’s through a direct cabinet decision or a new NEB process,” Stewart said. “I think they will cancel the Northern Gateway pipeline and they’ll approve Kinder Morgan.”
“They’ll make it look like there’s more consultation. They’ll add six months onto the process and they’ll talk to some First Nations, and then they’ll approve it,” he added. “I think Kinder Morgan is back at the drawing board. They’ll talk to their insiders at the Liberal party … to find the best way to get this project built.”
Jennifer Moreau is a staff writer at Burnaby Now, sister paper of the North Shore News.