Canadian Manufacturing

Vancouver mayor makes Kinder Morgan pipeline key election issue

The $5.4-billion Kinder Morgan project would almost triple the capacity of the current pipeline linking the oilsands to Vancouver

VANCOUVER—Vancouver’s mayor is making his fight against Kinder Morgan’s oil pipeline expansion a key plank of his re-election campaign.

British Columbia municipalities go to the polls on Nov. 15 and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver party released an environmental platform that makes the Trans Mountain expansion proposal its top priority.

“Mayor Robertson and Vision will continue to say a loud, firm `No’ to the federal government and Kinder Morgan, and speak up for Vancouver in the National Energy Board hearings,” Robertson and his party colleagues said in a statement.

The $5.4-billion project would almost triple the capacity of the current pipeline linking the Alberta oilsands to Port Metro Vancouver, increasing flow from 300,000 barrels of oil a day to almost 900,000.

His main rival for the city’s top job—former journalist Kirk LaPointe, running under the Non-Partisan Association banner—has not taken a position on the project but has criticized Robertson for declaring opposition before a National Energy Board review is complete.

The pipeline expansion proposed by the Texas-based pipeline giant adds risk with no benefit to Vancouver, he said.

LaPointe said that the regulatory review for the project is barely underway and borrowed a phrase from the federal Conservative stance, promising “responsible economic development” for the city.

“Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver’s rigid ideology have hamstrung our economy,” said LaPointe.

With Robertson at the helm, the city has asked the Federal Court of Appeal for a judicial review of the federal energy regulator’s process, saying the National Energy Board is refusing to consider Trans Mountain’s impact on global climate change.

The existing 1,200-kilometre Trans Mountain pipeline has linked Alberta’s oil sands to the West Coast since 1953.

The company’s Westridge marine terminal currently handles about five tankers a month. The expanded pipeline would result in about 34 tankers a month, and it would be capable of carrying diluted bitumen, the heavy, molasses-like oil that pipeline opponents say will sink if spilled in the ocean.

In neighbouring Burnaby, where Kinder Morgan was fined for a 2007 construction accident along the pipeline that rained 230,000 litres of oil down on a neighbourhood, the city is also vehemently opposed to the project and has refused the company access to city lands for survey work.

The dispute with Burnaby has set the regulatory review back seven months. A final report from the National Energy Board to cabinet is now due Jan. 25, 2016.

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