Ottawa Willing To Indemnify Kinder Morgan Pipeline – Harsh Reaction

Ottawa/Calgary – The Kinder Morgan self- imposed May 31 deadline for forward movement on the Trans Mountain pipeline has gone to the next level.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau says his government is prepared to indemnify the $7.4 billion Trans Mountain expansion project. Morneau made his comments just hours prior to Kinder Morgan’s annual general meeting in Calgary. The Minister did not specify how much money would be involved.

The fact that tax dollars are in play here has drawn the ire of the Province. The obvious reaction from BC Premier John Horgan, who called the plan “investor’s compensation”:

“We are standing up for British Columbia’s environment, economy and our coast against the threat of a bitumen spill, and we are doing so entirely within our rights.

“The federal finance minister is trying to use our government as an excuse, as the federal government puts taxpayer money on the line to backstop risks to private investors, while completely ignoring the risks to B.C. The fact is, we’ve been issuing permits in a fair and timely manner, and have proposed new regulations that are now referred to court to confirm our jurisdiction.

“We are acting well within B.C.’s rights to defend our environment, and the tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of economic activity that depend on it.”

The Surrey Board of Trade have their concerns and issues:

Today’s announcement by the Federal Government to indemnify financial losses for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project was met with concern by the Surrey Board of Trade.

“Despite the BC Government’s decision to further review and consult on the pipeline expansion, the Surrey Board of Trade continues their support of the Kinder Morgan Expansion Project with the development of 15,000 jobs, mostly in the trades,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.

“However, the Canadian government should not be using tax payer money to compensate for project delays and to indemnify financial losses,” continued Huberman.

This is a non-partisan issue. The twinning of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline (a pipeline that already exists) will come through Surrey.

In the Surrey Board of Trade’s view, there is currently nothing to stop Kinder Morgan from expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline. Approvals have already been given. The Surrey Board of Trade encourages Kinder Morgan to continue working on the federal permissions and guidelines to accomplish this needed infrastructure program rather than seek taxpayer support.

‘The Surrey Board of Trade applauds the Federal Government for trying to come up with a solution to assist a significant infrastructure project in Canada but using taxpayer dollars for this purpose sets the wrong precedent for local and international investors. There is a risk to Canada’s reputation as a place to do business when projects are approved and still don’t happen.”

The Surrey Board of Trade reiterates their position in support of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline Twinning project. “Let’s get on with creating jobs and needed infrastructure.”

Pipelines play a crucial role in today’s economy. They foster international trade, generate investment in research and development and create jobs, a fact that is not to be taken lightly in the current economic landscape.

“Access to markets, including building trade infrastructure, is what we want to see government deliver. These infrastructure projects are trade enabling, and they will drive economic growth for decades to come. They will create jobs for Canadian families and generate tax revenues for governments confronting massive deficits.

Pipelines matter because they are crucial to the competitiveness of the energy industry, a sector that supports the livelihood of so many Canadians.

“Further, the Surrey Board of Trade believes the reviews that have already taken place which include a focus on environmental protections such as the 157 binding conditions by the National Energy Board as well as the investments in the Ocean Protection Plan, serve to address environmental and other concerns related to the project. Moving crude oil by rail through suburbs has proved to be far more hazardous than using state-of-the art technology in pipelines.”

“The Kinder Morgan Project has a key role to the Canadian economy. They have shown progressive and innovative efforts to ensure world class environmental protection.”

The Surrey Board of Trade has extensively reviewed Kinder Morgan’s commitment to ensure that the proposed twinned pipeline will meet and exceed the most stringent conditions to get product to market in the safest possible way.

Since 1918, the Surrey Board of Trade is a not for profit organization, supporting and attracting business to Surrey through a business and international programs and services. The Surrey Board of Trade has 6,000 business contacts, representing 2,500 businesses and 60,000 employees.

UBCIC, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs issued their statement:

Chief Judy Wilson, Neskonlith Indian Band (te Secwepemc Nation) and Secretary-Treasurer of the UBCIC, stated,

“Last week I attended the Kinder Morgan AGM in Houston, Texas, and advised President Richard Kinder and CEO Steve Kean, and the stockholders and lawyers, that there is a new reality. They were duped by Canada into thinking that they can proceed without the consent of Indigenous Peoples.  I think they have begun to understand our message that the answer is still no- Richard Kinder himself provided an update to the stockholders that if Kinder Morgan decides to not proceed with the Trans Mountain Pipeline, the company will remain financially secure, and dividends will be paid.”

Kinder Morgan Inc. CEO Steve Kean (also Chair and CEO of Kinder Morgan Ltd, and former head of government relations for Enron) has confirmed that the company needs to see a resolution of the court case challenging the Federal Cabinet approval of Trans Mountain’s expansion heard by the court in Vancouver, last fall.  Specifically, “resolution” means an unequivocally favourable ruling for Kinder Morgan, with no further court action possible. This condition for proceeding with the project has nothing to do with B.C. and if not met, Mr. Kean has said that it would be “too much to bear.”

“This morning’s desperate “announcement” once again demonstrates the disconnect between the reality of Indigenous Title and Rights and the federal government’s approach to Kinder Morgan,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC).  “The world is listening, and while Morneau reiterated his government’s support for Kinder Morgan, the purpose of the press conference – to update Canadians on the progress of talks with Kinder Morgan – was lacking in specifics. Canada cannot indemnify against the risks of not respecting Indigenous Title and Rights.”

Journalists queried Morneau as he refused to address First Nations court cases against Kinder Morgan and continuing multi-jurisdictional opposition including on the ground in Burnaby, where the pipeline ends and Aframax tankers will be loaded with diluted bitumen to traverse coastal waters should the project proceed.

Chief Bob Chamberlin, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation and Vice-President of the UBCIC,

“As tensions flare across the country, the rule of law, including the current state of Aboriginal case law must be respected. In 2014 the Supreme Court of Canada made a landmark decision recognizing Tsilhqot’in Title in William and provided a critical direction to the Crown and proponents to shift from consultation and accommodation to consent-based decision making.  The BC Supreme Court and Canadian Federal Court of Appeals have yet to rule on First Nation lawsuits that could still quash the project. Those verdicts are not expected before May 31.”

Chief Chamberlin concluded, “The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clearly articulates the need to secure the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples on any project that directly impacts them.  We’re glad that Kinder Morgan and their stockholders have begun to understand the financial risk of not respecting Indigenous Title and Rights- and we’re waiting for Canada to follow suit.”

The Federal Green Party, as expected, were disgusted with the decision:

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) cringes at déja vu politics. “The Liberals promised change but we keep getting more of the same: Harper-style politics,” said Ms. May. “Now it’s a blank cheque to a Houston based pipeline company. A spectacular violation of a key plank of the Liberals’ 2015 campaign platform. Whatever happened to ending subsidies to fossil fuels?
“Subsidizing big oil at this point in the process is not surprising, but blaming Premier Horgan is plain shameful. British Columbians have done nothing to obstruct the project. Kinder Morgan still does not have permission from the National Energy Board to proceed. It has not yet fulfilled the 157 conditions. In fact, after issuing its April 8th threat to cancel the project by May 31st, it asked the National Energy Board for more time – into the fall- to meet one of the many unmet conditions. Kinder Morgan is taking the Liberal party for a ride and Canadians along with it.”
“Nearly every day, more scientific evidence is released pointing to an accelerating climate crisis.  Subsidizing a fossil fuel pipeline – spurring more investments in GHG emitting oil sands- is unconscionable,” concludes Ms. May.

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