Kinder Morgan pipeline fate in limbo

NDP says Liberals backing off election promise, but Terry Beech says that's not the case

The NDP says the Liberals are backing off their election promise to overhaul the National Energy Board’s Kinder Morgan pipeline review, but local Liberal Terry Beech says nothing’s changed.

Natural Resources Minister James Carr told the House of Commons Wednesday that the proponents of projects currently under review “will not be asked to go back to square one.” Carr was responding to a question about the Liberals’ campaign promises to toughen environmental reviews around pipeline projects.

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“There will be a transition period that will embody the principles that were in the campaign platform,” Carr said in the House. “In the Prime Minister's mandate to me and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, it will be transparent and it will involve consultation with indigenous communities.”

New Westminster-Burnaby MP Peter Julian said that wasn’t what the Liberals said during the campaign. 

“During the election, the new Liberal member for Burnaby North-Seymour told the Burnaby NOW, and I quote: ‘Kinder Morgan will have to go through a new revised process before it's approved.’ My question is very simple: Why did they tell British Columbians something different from what they are telling them today?” Julian said in the House.

In an interview with the NOW, he said Carr’s comments were “very serious.”

“It’s also a complete betrayal of the commitments the Liberals made during the election campaign. I think this is the most significant reversal the Liberals have made so far,” he said. 

Kennedy Stewart, the New Democrat MP for Burnaby South, said he thinks this is the Liberals’ first step in approving the pipeline.

“I know that’s not what people in Burnaby want, and I know that’s not what they are expecting. Through the election, the Liberals made it seem, and (Burnaby-North MP) Terry Beech even said, that they would have to go back to square one, and that’s not what’s happened,” he said.

Beech, however, said the NDP was just “playing with words.”

“(Carr’s) saying proponents won’t have to go back to square one, but there’s going to be a transition process for projects that are currently under review. So as we revise the NEB scope, we don’t want to say that projects currently there have to start all over. They’re just going to have to make sure there’s a transition process, so it includes the added scope under the new process,” Beech told the NOW. “Kinder Morgan, just like any other energy project, would have to go under a new process.”

Beech said his election comments on the issue were still accurate.

“We’re going to redo the National Energy Board process, we’re going to make sure it’s fair and based on science. There’s going to be a community component, there’s going to be a First Nations component, and for projects that are currently under way, there’s going to be a further transition process. Details of that transition process are currently being discussed by Minister Carr and Minister (of Environment Catherine) McKenna.”

Kinder Morgan wants to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline in a $6.8 billion expansion that would increase local tanker traffic and add more storage tanks at the Burnaby Mountain tank farm. The National Energy Board is reviewing the project, and the deadline for the board’s recommendation is May 20.

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