B.C. premier says 5 conditions met on Trans Mountain pipeline
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, January 11, 2017 2:01PM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 11, 2017 6:36PM PST
VICTORIA -- Premier Christy Clark announced British Columbia's support for the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline Wednesday, saying the project meets her government's five conditions for approval and includes a revenue-sharing agreement worth up to $1 billion.
- Scroll down or click here to read the details on all five conditions
Clark said she's now convinced Kinder Morgan Canada's $6.8-billion project will protect B.C. from potential environmental damage with world-leading spill prevention and response measures.
The project also promises $20 billion in economic growth over the next 20 years, she added.
The federal government gave its approval for the pipeline expansion late last year after the National Energy Board recommended it go ahead if 157 conditions are met. Clark's government granted provincial environmental approval for the project Wednesday.
"The project has met the five conditions," Clark said at a news conference at the B.C. legislature. "We fought for these conditions for 4 1/2 years."
The expansion would triple the capacity of the existing oil pipeline, which runs from near Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., and is expected to increase tanker traffic seven-fold.
Among B.C.'s five conditions are world-leading marine and land oil spill response, protection and recovery measures for B.C.'s coast and land areas. The conditions also include environmental reviews, First Nations consultations and participation and economic agreements that reflect the level and nature of the risk the province bears with a heavy oil project.
"It is a federal decision, and they made it," said Clark. "But what is our job is, is to stand up for British Columbia. It's to fight to make sure our coasts, our land base, our communities are protected and benefiting from any change in the movement of heavy oil across our province."
She said the financial agreement with Kinder Morgan will provide up to $1 billion to the province over the next 20 years that will go toward a B.C. Clean Communities Program that will fund local environmental projects.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the announcement is good news for B.C. and Alberta after years of failure by conservative federal and provincial governments to get a pipeline approved.
"I am very happy. It is good news for Albertans," she said.
The project still faces opposition from environmental groups, some mayors of B.C. communities affected by the pipeline and aboriginal leaders who have threatened legal action to block it.
Shortly before Clark's announcement, New Democrat Opposition Leader John Horgan said he plans to "use every tool in our tool box" to stop the pipeline expansion.
He held up a small glass jar full with what he said was heavy oil to show how thick and difficult it would be to clean up if there was a spill.
"This is what risk looks like to our coast," said Horgan.
B.C. Green party Leader Andrew Weaver said the project represents a massive threat to the province's environment.
"The evidence does not support their assurances that we can adequately respond to a heavy-oil spill, nor does it backup the government's misleading claims about the economic effects this pipeline will have," he said in a statement.
Peter McCartney of the Wilderness Committee accused the government of "blatantly" aligning itself against the wishes of its own citizens by granting the environmental approval.
"Right when we need our leadership to stand up to Alberta and Ottawa, they buckle like a cheap lawn chair," he said in an interview.
The Vancouver area Tsleil-Waututh Nation said First Nations were not adequately consulted about the project and legal options are being explored.
"Regardless of today's announcement, the Kinder Morgan pipeline will never actually be built" said Charlene Aleck, of the nation's Sacred Trust Initiative, said in a statement.
Ian Anderson, the president of Kinder Morgan Canada, said the deal it negotiated means the company will contribute a minimum of $25 million to a maximum of $50 million a year depending on how much bitumen is transported through the pipeline over its 20-year lifespan.
The company has also agreed to give qualified and competitive B.C. companies the first opportunity at jobs for building, operating and maintaining the pipeline.
B.C.'s five conditions set out for Trans Mountain pipeline approval
1. Successful completion of the environmental review process.
B.C. initially planned to rely on the National Energy Board's review of the expansion. The B.C. Supreme Court ruled last year that the province couldn't simply depend on federal reviews, and the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office launched its own review last April.
The province announced Wednesday that it had given environmental approval for the pipeline with 37 conditions.
The energy board recommended last May that the federal government approve the project, subject to 157 environmental, safety and financial conditions.
2. 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.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a $1.5-billion ocean-protection plan late last year. He said the money will be spent over five years starting in 2017 and includes funding to create a marine-safety system, restore ocean ecosystems, and develop new methods and research to clean up oil spills.
3. World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines.
Clark's government introduced legislation last February to establish a new, "world-leading" spill preparedness and response regime to address environmental emergencies, including land-based spills. The regime includes requirements for spill preparedness, response and recovery and new offences and penalties.
The energy board considered protection of the land and pipeline safety in its review and several of its conditions addressed this issue.
One of the 37 conditions in the B.C. environmental review is that research be conducted on the behaviour and cleanup of heavy oil spills in fresh water and marine aquatic environments to provide Trans Mountain and spill responders with improved information.
4. 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 project.
Clark indicated late last year that the condition had been met, though several First Nations on B.C.'s south coast remain adamantly opposed to the project, most notably North Vancouver's Tsleil-Waututh Nation, which has filed a court challenge against the energy board's recommendation.
An earlier challenge filed by the nation arguing the Crown had breached its duty to consult was dismissed in September. The Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the First Nation had declined opportunities for consultation leading up to and during the review.
5. 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.
Clark announced Wednesday her government has signed an "unprecedented agreement" with Kinder Morgan to receive up to $1 billion. The company would pay the province between $25 million and $50 million every year for 20 years.
She said all of the revenue would be dedicated to a new B.C. Clean Communities Program, allowing communities to apply for grants for projects to protect and enhance the environment.
In 2013, Clark said she had agreed with the Alberta government that none of Alberta's royalties from oil pipelines would go to B.C.