Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok says the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline is in the interest of British Columbia’s economic security.
Clovechok came out strong in his support of the controversial project in his most recent MLA report, released April 16.
“We need this project for a strong economy,” wrote Clovechok in his report. “The recent actions of our government are scaring off investors.”
Clovechok also wrote in his report that highway security is one of the biggest concerns in the Columbia River-Revelstoke riding.
He wrote that the project going ahead would help alleviate “increased pressure on the railway,” which he said, “translates into overflow freight being diverted on the highways,” and argued that the pipeline is a more environmentally friendly option for rural B.C. than transporting oil by rail.
“To be pro-pipeline does not mean you are against a clean environment,” wrote Clovechok. “The pipeline is a more environmentally friendly option for rural B.C.”
The controversial $7.4 billion project, which has garnered media attention across the country, would twin a pipeline that transports diluted bitumen from Alberta to terminals in Burnaby.
The pipeline would massively increase the countries export capabilities to Asia.
China has heavily invested in the Alberta oil sands over the last decade.
If the project moves forward, it would triple the capacity of the pipeline, carrying 890,000 barrels of diluted bitumen a day from Central Alberta to the West Coast. It currently carries about 300,000 barrels of oil per day.
Consequently, if approved and built, the number of oil tankers travelling through the Burrard Inlet is projected to increase sevenfold.
Environmentalists are arguing that this would result in increased risk of an oil spill along the West Coast, and that in the case of a spill, diluted bitumen stays afloat longer than traditional crude.
In a 2016 National Energy Board (NEB) report on Trans Mountain, the NEB found the project “not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.” The report did however indicate that the increased traffic in the Salish Sea would endanger the resident Killer Whale community.
It called an oil spill unlikely, but reported the consequences were large. The NEB called that risk, “acceptable.”
Some First Nation communities are also arguing that the pipeline expansion project would cross hundreds of kilometers of their unceded territory.
The 2016 NEB report found “there would be modest burdens sustained by aboriginal groups.”
In late 2017, Ian Campbell, Chief of the Squamish first nation, said the government had failed to adequately consult first nation communities who would be affected by the project.
“Concerns were met with vagueness, and general responses, blanketing all first nations, as though we were stakeholders in our own lands,” said Campbell.
Some of the indigenous communities whose land the project would cross have signed agreements supporting Trans Mountain.
The B.C. government has opposed the expansion project since it formed government.
Horgan campaigned in opposition to the pipeline expansion.
As a result of the provincial governments continued opposition to the project, on April 8, Kinder Morgan announced it would suspend all non-essential activities and spending on the project.
That same day Kinder Morgan set a deadline of May 31 for the federal government to intervene.
In response, on April 9, Alberta premier Rachel Notley announced Alberta would introduce legislation to restrict energy exports to B.C.
Analysts say that if Bill 12 is passed and Alberta exercises its ability to cut the flow of oil to B.C. gas prices could jump by 10 cents a litre or more.
On Sunday April 15, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with B.C. Premier John Horgan and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in order to attempt to mediate the two provinces ongoing disagreement on the project.
Following the meeting, Horgan said that Alberta and B.C. had made no progress in their attempt to reach a solution, and that the provinces continued to disagree on the subject.
I had a frank discussion with @JustinTrudeau and @RachelNotley this morning. I made it clear that I will continue to stand up for the interests of British Columbians and defend our economy, our coast and inland waters from the risk of a diluted bitumen spill. #bcpoli
— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) April 15, 2018
However Trudeau said in a press conference that the pipeline was “in the national interest” and would go through.
“The Trans Mountain pipeline is of vital strategic interest to Canada. It will be built, ” said Trudeau.
He said he had directed the Minister of Finance Bill Morneau to initiate conversation with Kinder Morgan to “remove the uncertainty” surrounding the pipeline expansion project.
Trudeau also said the province of British Columbia was to blame for the current situation, and that he informed premier Horgan in their conversation that the federal government has jurisdiction over the matter.
Why are major energy projects of vital interest to Canada? Because they’re vital to the people who work hard every day to provide for their families. pic.twitter.com/iIyHbXuPo3
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 16, 2018
“I don’t think we would be in this current situation if the British Columbia government hadn’t continue to emphasize its opposition to the project,” Trudeau said.
Speaking to reporters on the morning of April 18, Horgan said he believes the province has jurisdiction on the matter and that the province will continue to try to exercise its jurisdiction over the project.
That same day environment minister George Heyman said the province would file a constitutional reference case in the Court of Appeal by April 30 to determine if it has jurisdiction over the expansion project.
Later that day, in a conference call with reporters, Steve Kean, the CEO of Kinder Morgan Canada, called the investment into Trans Mountain “untenable,” saying the developments of the last ten days have made that clear.
“It’s become clear this particular investment may be untenable for a private party to undertake,” said Kean. “The events of the last ten days have made that clear.”
Kean did not clarify whether or not the federal government intends to intervene.
In the last month nearly 200 people have been arrested protesting the expansion of the pipeline.
Among them were federal Green Party leader and Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May, and Burnaby South MP Kennedy Stewart, who is a member of the NDP.
Both May and Stewart are currently facing criminal charges in the Supreme Court of B.C.
May had previously said that she would go to jail to prevent the pipeline if necessary.
A survey released on April 18 by the Angus Reid Institute found that 54 per cent of B.C. residents support the project.
A poll conducted in February found just 48 per cent in favour.
The Trans Mountain pipeline has been in operation since 1953.
Around 119,000 km of pipelines are used to transport oil and natural gas across Canada.
The federal government gave Kinder Morgan the go ahead for the project in 2016.
The BC Liberals previously approved the project.
Prime Minister Trudeau was greeted in London on April 18 by protesters opposing Trans Mountain. He is there for the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting and has met with Queen Elizabeth and British PM Theresa May.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 19, 2018