Trans Mountain pipeline
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.