A well-known economist is raising questions about British Columbia's say in the environmental review for Kinder Morgan's pipeline expansion, given the recent changes announced by the federal government.
Robyn Allan, former CEO of ICBC, wants to ensure that British Columbians' interests are protected now that the federal Conservatives have announced cabinet will be able to overrule decisions made by the National Energy Board, the independent regulatory body that oversees pipeline development. The National Energy Board will review Kinder Morgan's plan to nearly triple pipeline capacity for the Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs oil from Alberta to Burnaby.
"Should the National Energy Board say in their wisdom that this project should not go ahead, the federal government can say we don't agree with you, it's going ahead," Allan said. "The federal government has said it wants pipelines through British Columbia. They have said that before the National Energy Board has finished its exploration of the question."
Allan is also taking issue with the Environmental Assessment Equivalency Agreement between the provincial and federal governments that basically states B.C. doesn't need to conduct environmental assessments on projects reviewed by the National Energy Board.
Environment Minister Terry Lake has already indicated that the province won't conduct an environmental assessment of Kinder Morgan's expansion plan, even though the company has yet to apply to the National Energy Board.
The NOW asked if Lake had concerns about handing over the environmental review process, given the federal government has announced several changes, including limiting who can participate in the public hearings and allowing for cabinet to overrule National Energy Board decisions. Lake was not available for comment, but his ministry send this statement on behalf of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office: "The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office is not involved in National Energy Board led reviews, and the EOA believes that these reviews, with appropriate provincial agency input, will adequately identify and address all relevant issues and include a meaningful public consultation component."