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NEWS: BC mayors may form united front against Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline

Westridge terminal in Burnaby. Photo by Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

Westridge terminal in Burnaby. Photo by Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

The Globe and Mail reports, “Local governments on B.C.’s west coast are girding for a fight with energy giant Kinder Morgan over its $5-billion (Trans Mountain) pipeline expansion plans to move more Alberta oil to the Vancouver Harbour for transport overseas. A phalanx of mayors is vowing to fight the project, including coastal communities far from the pipeline but exposed to increased oil tanker traffic.”

The proposed twinning of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline by 2017 would increase pipeline capacity for tar sands crude by 550,000 barrels a day; from the current 300,000 barrels a day to 850,000 barrels. It would also mean 25 to 30 more tankers a month at the Westridge terminal in Burnaby.

“On Friday, at a meeting of Metro Vancouver mayors, talks began on forming a united front (against the proposed pipeline)…” Metro Vancouver – also known as the Greater Vancouver Regional District – comprises the governments of 21 municipalities including Burnaby, Delta, North Vancouver, Surrey and Vancouver. It represents a combined population of more than 2.2 million people.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan says, “This is something that is going to gain momentum as the mayors put their resources together to respond. …This is not a comfortable position for Kinder Morgan, they’ll be relying on the federal government to override local government. …This may be the hill the Conservatives die on. The response from the public in British Columbia is, not only is this a potential danger to us, but there’s nothing in it for us.”

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says city residents – including BC premier Christy Clark’s own Vancouver-Point Grey constituents – won’t support the pipeline. He adds, “I will fiercely oppose the expansion of oil tankers in Vancouver’s harbour and the pipeline that feeds them. It’s hard to imagine an oil spill on Kits Beach and Stanley Park – the impact it would have for generations.”

And Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin says Vancouver Island communities also have a stake in this debate. “For us, it’s about what happens if we have an oil disaster – to our fishery, to our tourism industry. The risk may be low but a single event could be catastrophic. …Part of our role as municipal leaders is to be sure there is real and meaningful consultation. The responsibility now falls on to the National Energy Board to do their job.”

Kinder Morgan is expected to file an official proposal to build the pipeline with the National Energy Board in late 2013.

Municipal opposition is also growing against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. Recently, the Whistler Pique reported, “Speaking up for tourism, Whistler council is taking its politics to a whole new level — unanimously opposing the Northern Gateway pipeline. …’I think this says to the federal government, the provincial government, the world, that an environmental disaster on our coast would significantly damage us,’ said Councillor Jack Crompton, who read aloud the motion at the meeting. …Council also made clear that it is expressing its solidarity for northern communities — Prince Rupert, Terrace and Smithers, and the regional district of Skeena-Queen Charlotte — that are also against the Enbridge project.”

In just over a week from now, on April 22, the Council of Canadians, alongside endorsing organizations and communities, will be holding rallies against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, and the construction of the Pacific Trails pipeline by Apache, Encana and EOG Resources, http://canadians.org/pipelines.