Vancouver Pipeline Debate Intensifies as Deadline Nears
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson recently announced his doubts about Kinder Morgan Inc.’s pipeline expansion moving forward, as there is too much resistance “on the ground," yet the deadline for federal government involvement against those opposing the pipeline remains.
According to Bloomberg, Kinder Morgan recently threatened to step away from the C$7.4 billion ($5.7 billion) project. As a result, there is now a May 31 deadline for the federal government to eliminate opposition from the British Columbia government, which has vowed to use “every tool” to block the pipeline from going forward.
The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion would, according to Kinder Morgan’s plans, run from Strathcona County, Alberta (near Edmonton), to a tanker port in Burnaby, British Columbia (near Vancouver), staying mostly alongside the current Trans Mountain Pipeline, built over 50 years ago.
The company noted that 73 percent of the pipeline would use the same right-of-way as the existing pipeline, 16 percent would follow other linear infrastructure rights-of-way, and 11 percent would require new right-of-way. The project involves 980 kilometers (609 miles) of new pipeline, and the reactivation of 193 kilometers of deactivated pipeline. It would expand the pipeline system's capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day.
As of December 2017, Kinder Morgan anticipated the permitting process for its Trans Mountain expansion to take longer than originally expected, likely pushing back the oil pipeline’s completion until 2020.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to see the pipeline completed, in order to help Canadian crude get to Asian markets. Trudeau did note that legislation to push the project forward remains an option, but he did not go into further detail. (Both Alberta and the federal government are considering supporting the project financially.)
Yet defiance in British Columbia does not show signs of relenting.
“I don’t think the resistance on the west coast is going to fade—I think it will only intensify," said Robertson. "Escalation looks likely."
For Robertson, the pipeline is also part of a larger question of transitioning away from fossil fuels. Currently, opposition is largely rooted in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia’s biggest cities.