Trans Moun­tain pipe­line

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AC­CORD­ING TO CONFUCIUS,

the man who moves a moun­tain be­gins by car­ry­ing away only small stones. The same ap­plies, it would seem, to mov­ing for­ward on the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion. Kinder Mor­gan’s pro­longed at­tempt to win fed­eral ap­proval to ex­pand the 1,150-kilo­me­ter oil sands pipe­line from Ed­mon­ton to Van­cou­ver be­gan in May 2012, and it’s been an up­hill bat­tle for the Hous­ton com­pany ever since. But 2016 may yet go down as the year that Kinder Mor­gan’s pile of small, painstak­ingly car­ried stones starts to look like a real achieve­ment. In May, the Na­tional En­ergy Board (NEB) rec­om­mended that Ot­tawa ap­prove the west coast pipe­line ex­pan­sion, once all 157 of its con­di­tions are met. The fed­eral govern­ment an­swered crit­ics who op­posed the NEB hear­ing process by strik­ing a min­is­te­rial panel, which in­cluded a Van­cou­ver-area for­mer First Na­tions chief, a for­mer Yukon pre­mier and a for­mer Al­berta bu­reau­crat. In Novem­ber, that panel sub­mit­ted its re­port, which was never in­tended to pro­vide a rec­om­men­da­tion for the project, and the Lib­eral govern­ment will con­sider the con­cerns it raises in its fi­nal de­ci­sion on the project in late De­cem­ber. What­ever it de­cides, Ot­tawa is bound to alien­ate sub­stan­tial swaths of the Lib­eral elec­torate over Trans Moun­tain, and re­gional dif­fer­ences of opin­ion re­gard­ing the project—be­tween Al­berta and B.C., and be­tween dif­fer­ent First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties along the route—will likely re­main for years to come.

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