by EVAN MATTHEWS
In the same week Kinder Morgan announced it has secured funds for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, local politicians are preparing to fight for their constituents against a likely NDP-Green minority government.
The twinning of the existing 1,150-km pipeline between Strathcona County, Alberta, and Burnaby, B.C. will increase the nominal capacity of the system from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.
On Tuesday May. 30, Kinder Morgan announced the completion of its Initial Public Offering (IPO), which finalizes the investment for the pipeline expansion.
A public offering is when shares of a company are sold to investors in order to raise capital for the company.
“This is an exciting day for our customers, for communities, and for the many individuals who are relying on this project to deliver jobs and economic benefits to their communities,” says Ian Anderson, President of Kinder Morgan Canada.
“This securing of financing demonstrates the need and interest in the opportunity for Canada to have better access to world markets.”
The final investment decision triggers the finalizing of construction contracts and the execution of the financial, employment and safety benefits the company has committed to over the last five years of consultation, according to a statement from Kinder Morgan.
“I’m a realist, and I believe the product will be transported one way or another,” — Valemount Mayor Jeannette Townsend.
However, the day before Kinder Morgan’s announcement, the B.C. Greens and NDP unveiled an agreement outlining an official partnership to form B.C.’s new minority government, should Christy Clark’s Liberals lose a confidence vote in the legislature later this month.
Both the B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver and NDP leader John Horgan were clear in last week’s announcement that neither party supports the Trans Mountain expansion.
In a section of the agreement called “Jobs, climate and a sustainable economy that works for everyone,” the agreement states, “The new minority government will immediately employ every tool available to stop the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the seven-fold increase in tanker traffic on our coast, and the transportation of raw bitumen through our province.”
But the methods the new government plans to use to obstruct the project are not stated.
The NDP’s and Green’s attitude toward the project is causing concern for Valemount’s Mayor Jeannette Townsend, as she told CBC Daybreak’s Robert Doane she believes the provincial government’s obstruction of the pipeline expansion puts Valemount in a “very hazardous position.”
“I’m a realist, and I believe the product will be transported one way or another,” Townsend told Doane, adding if oil were to be transported on the railroad, it would be above the Fraser River and could potentially pose an even greater environmental risk.
“In our opinion this is the safer option not only for our municipality, but every municipality down the line,” she said, also citing the obvious economic benefits to the community, and what she says was a lack of public opposition during Kinder Morgan’s public consultation process.
The Trans Mountain expansion has received both Federal and Provincial Approval, and has also received environmental certificates from the provincial government.
Shirley Bond, the recently re-elected Liberal MLA for the Prince-George Valemount riding, will be serving in her 5th consecutive term. Though she’s been a big supporter of the project previously, she acknowledged the project’s uncertainty moving forward.
Bond says she had the chance to listen to her constituents, particularly in the Robson Valley, during the election campaign period.
“Many support the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion,” says Bond.
“I made the commitment… People living in our part of the Province need to speak up… my job is to express the views of the people who elected me,” she says, adding there is still uncertainty about how things will unfold in the provincial legislature after the confidence vote.
“I don’t want to speculate on the outcome,” says Bond.
However, Kinder Morgan Canada’s president is assuring Canadians this project is a go.
“Trans Mountain has followed every process and met every test put before us,” says Anderson, adding the company has begun awarding significant construction contracts and is beginning to move ahead with benefit agreements in place with Aboriginal and local communities.
“We look forward to the opportunity to update British Columbians on where we are with the project, as we continue to move forward with… construction in September 2017.”