Re­moval of B.C. city’s hur­dles clears path for pipe­line project

Con­struc­tion can com­mence on tem­po­rary in­fra­struc­ture site af­ter Burn­aby slow­down

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - DEB­O­RAH YEDLIN

Af­ter a lengthy de­lay re­ceiv­ing nec­es­sary per­mits from the city of Burn­aby, B.C., Kinder Mor­gan fi­nally was given the green light from the Na­tional En­ergy Board to be­gin work on the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion.

The light turned green for Kinder Mor­gan and its Trans Moun­tain ex­pan­sion project on Thurs­day, as the Na­tional En­ergy Board ruled in favour of the com­pany, say­ing it can pro­ceed with the work re­lated to the project im­me­di­ately.

It was wel­come news for Al­berta Pre­mier Rachel Not­ley, who has re­cently been criss-cross­ing the coun­try, mak­ing the case for the im­por­tance of pipe­line in­fra­struc­ture.

“We are, of course, very pleased to see this de­ci­sion,” said Not­ley on Thurs­day af­ter­noon. “We see this as a good step for­ward and we are ex­cited to see that it prob­a­bly means the NEB has ac­cepted our ar­gu­ment that this is a project that is in the na­tional in­ter­est and as a re­sult we can’t have in­di­vid­ual ju­ris­dic­tions in­ter­fer­ing with it.”

Kinder Mor­gan had been frus­trated by the lack of progress in ob­tain­ing the nec­es­sary per­mits to move for­ward with the project, thanks to the City of Burn­aby’s pas­sive-ag­gres­sive be­hav­iour in is­su­ing the per­mits.

In­stead of weeks, it was tak­ing months; the com­pany had ap­plied for the per­mits in June and had yet to see one is­sued.

Fed up with the de­lays, Kinder Mor­gan filed a no­tice of mo­tion last month, chal­leng­ing Burn­aby on con­sti­tu­tional grounds.

In the fil­ing, the com­pany stated that a mu­nic­i­pal­ity could not “ma­noeu­vre out of their duty to is­sue per­mits by im­pos­ing un­rea­son­able re­quire­ments and de­lays that al­lows them to im­pair the core of the fed­eral author­ity, thereby do­ing in­di­rectly what they can­not do di­rectly.” As it should have. The com­pany had re­ceived all the req­ui­site ap­provals from both the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and the NEB; since when is an ap­proval, not an ap­proval?

More to the point — where did Burn­aby Mayor Derek Cor­ri­gan get off think­ing a mu­nic­i­pal­ity could over­ride ap­proval for a fed­er­ally sanc­tioned project?

Hear­ings were then held over the last week at the NEB’s of­fices in Cal­gary — which one could say took on a cir­cus-like qual­ity as the coun­sel for Burn­aby tried to make the case for the city on the grounds that the rea­son the per­mits had not been is­sued was due to the fact they hadn’t been prop­erly com­pleted. Re­ally? A pub­licly traded, multi­bil­lion­dol­lar com­pany that op­er­ates pipe­lines across North Amer­ica doesn’t know how to fill out the pa­per­work at a mu­nic­i­pal level for per­mits it needs to pro­ceed with a project. Give me a break. More likely was the fact that the com­pany was al­ready in the penalty box with those in a po­si­tion to ap­prove the per­mits be­cause the con­stant bar­rage of neg­a­tive sen­ti­ment spew­ing from Cor­ri­gan, who has never missed an op­por­tu­nity to voice his op­po­si­tion to the project.

It was fair for Kinder Mor­gan’s coun­sel to make the case dur­ing the hear­ing as to whether the com­pany was even get­ting a fair shake in terms of the per­mit process.

Cor­ri­gan’s re­sponse to the NEB rul­ing was laugh­able.

“It’s frus­trat­ing be­cause we were deal­ing with them in good faith,” he said. “We were pro­ceed­ing through the pro­cesses and the re­quire­ments that the city has to pro­tect our lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment and our ecol­ogy and the process within the city.” Give me a break. That com­ment is noth­ing short of disin­gen­u­ous — be­cause there has been noth­ing good faith about it.

For those who have been in the oil­patch for a while, that state­ment by Cor­ri­gan calls to mind a com­ment made by the late J.C. An­der­son at his com­pany’s an­nual meet­ing about a ri­val oil­man: “If bull­shit was mu­sic, he’d be a big brass band.”

Thanks to Thurs­day’s rul­ing, Kinder Mor­gan can start work im­me­di­ately, which means it can move ahead with con­struc­tion at the tem­po­rary in­fra­struc­ture site near the Westridge Ma­rine and Burn­aby Ter­mi­nals.

As pointed out by fed­eral Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter Jim Carr, this point of for­ward progress is crit­i­cal for so many rea­sons.

“This is a very im­por­tant el­e­ment of our trade pol­icy and our eco­nomic strat­egy,” he said in an in­ter­view last week. “That we want to re­duce re­liance on one trad­ing part­ner and TMX will help us do that. In ad­di­tion to job cre­ation, eco­nomic stim­u­la­tion and gov­ern­ment rev­enue, it is im­por­tant that we sig­nal to the world that we are pre­pared and will­ing to send our prod­uct in­ter­na­tion­ally.”

Be­yond send­ing a sig­nal to other coun­tries look­ing to Canada as a sup­plier of en­ergy, it is equally im­por­tant we are seen to be able to han­dle our own is­sues and move for­ward be­cause it gives us ne­go­ti­at­ing lever­age.

While it’s true that Key­stone XL is back on the books and has re­ceived an ap­proval of sorts from Ne­braska, it still isn’t a done deal be­cause Tran­sCanada still needs to come up with its fi­nal de­ter­mi­na­tion as to whether it will pro­ceed with the long-de­layed project.

Fi­nally — as Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau just left China, al­beit without any agree­ment to ne­go­ti­ate a free-trade agree­ment with the world’s sec­ond largest econ­omy — no one should think for a minute that en­ergy ac­cess was not on the agenda.

And by mov­ing for­ward with TMX, Canada, as Carr said, is sig­nalling we are open for busi­ness.

The cit­i­zens of Burn­aby and the Lower Main­land, who still can’t make the con­nec­tion be­tween en­ergy en­abling their com­fort­able lives and be­ing a key in­put into eco­nomic growth they clearly take for granted, will no doubt con­tinue to squawk about the pipe­line.

As Not­ley said last week in her speech given to the En­ergy Fo­rum held by the Van­cou­ver Board of Trade and re­it­er­ated on Thurs­day, there isn’t a school, hos­pi­tal, bike lane or port any­where in the coun­try that does not owe some­thing to Al­berta’s en­ergy sec­tor.

Those are things that are as im­por­tant to the cit­i­zens of Burn­aby, the prov­ince of B.C., as they are to the rest of the coun­try.

The NEB, as an agent of the Crown, has spo­ken.

And what it ef­fec­tively said on Thurs­day is that a city can­not hold the coun­try’s eco­nomic fu­ture hostage by de­lay­ing the is­suance of per­mits on a project that falls un­der fed­eral ju­ris­dic­tion.

To that, and in the spirit of the sea­son, it’s time to sing the Hal­lelu­jah cho­rus from Han­del’s Mes­siah.

It prob­a­bly means the NEB has ac­cepted our ar­gu­ment that this is a project that is in the na­tional in­ter­est.

JONATHAN HAY­WARD/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS/FILES

Where did Burn­aby Mayor Derek Cor­ri­gan get off think­ing a mu­nic­i­pal­ity could over­ride ap­proval for a fed­er­ally sanc­tioned project, asks colum­nist Deb­o­rah Yedlin.

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