The fact that the provincial government is not supporting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is fairly surprising. As they say in their own announcement, the Liberal government supports the oil and gas industry in general.
It’s nice to see that the government’s support is not unconditional.
In this case, parent company Kinder Morgan seems to have decided that they could just assure provinces and municipalities that all would be well, and still get a thumbs up. Repeatedly, the province has asked questions about how any possible spills might be dealt with. Repeatedly, according to the provincial report, Kinder Morgan has failed to provide detailed answers.
This is not a minor issue. The province has a responsibility to watch over the hundreds of rivers and streams – including the Fraser – and of the ocean that the pipeline crosses or skirts. Here in the Lower Mainland, the Trans Mountain pipeline runs through valuable farmland, across salmon-bearing streams, and through densely-populated suburbs.
Yet when Kinder Morgan did send information to the province, it was “heavily redacted,” according to the province. This means that what information was in there about spill prevention and response was partially blacked out.
This isn’t the first time Kinder Morgan has been accused of not providing information to governments of its plans. Langley Township has also complained about questions to the oil pipeline firm going unanswered.
There seems to be no explanation for why Kinder Morgan couldn’t share the complete details of its emergency plans with the provincial government. Whatever their reason, they seem to have shot their cause in the foot. With the province withholding its yes, Kinder Morgan will be heading into the National Energy Board’s hearings with one of the most important players on the opposing side.
Kinder Morgan needs to take seriously the demands of governments – and the general public – for detailed information about emergency procedures. Anything less is an insult to our intelligence.