Kinder Morgan's final argument: the project is in the public interest

Pipeline company says expansion will lead to more jobs, and impacts can be mitigated

Kinder Morgan is arguing the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is in the best interests of the country, and there’s no environmental or social impact that can’t be mitigated. The company filed the written portion of its final argument with the National Energy Board today, and company lawyers are set to present the final oral argument on Thursday in Calgary.

The National Energy Board’s main task is to decide if the $6.8-billion project is in Canada’s best interests.

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“Trans Mountain submits that by building on its existing system, paralleling the existing right-of-way and implementing well-known and proven mitigation, there are no environmental or social impacts that cannot be mitigated,” the report states. “That conclusion must be balanced with the material and certain economic benefits that will flow from increased market access, world prices for our resources and the jobs and opportunities that accompany the development of this project. In balancing those benefits and burdens, Trans Mountain respectfully submits that the board can arrive at only one conclusion – the project is in the public interest.”

Once the company’s states its case, the hearings then move to Burnaby, where intervenors have their final say. Intervenors include the cities of Burnaby and Vancouver, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, SFU groups and Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion, to name a few.

The NEB’s deadline for a final recommendation on the pipeline is May 20. That decision then goes to federal cabinet, which has the final say.

Kinder Morgan still has to submit its final, detailed route proposal to the NEB before construction can start.

Kinder Morgan wants to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline, which is currently the only line that runs oil from Alberta to the West Coast. The expansion would increase capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 and see an increase in tanker traffic from five tankers a month to 34.

The pipeline has been a flash point of controversy, drawing mass protests to Burnaby Mountain last fall, which resulted in more than 100 arrests but no charges.

The federal Liberals promised to toughen environmental regulations during the election, but the new resources minister, James Carr, has not yet announced any detailed government plans or impacts on major pipeline projects like the Trans Mountain expansion.

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