Trans Mountain back in crosshairs
NDP/Green pact lays out vow to quash pipe expansion
Texas oil giant Kinder Morgan breathed a sigh of relief this winter when Premier Christy Clark gave her final approval to its Trans Mountain expansion — but since election night, the company is back to holding its breath.
It still had a major hurdle to overcome: raise enough money to actually build the $7.4-billion project, which would triple the flow of diluted bitumen oil from Alberta’s oilsands across B.C. and increase tanker traffic sevenfold.
But on Tuesday, another obstacle arose: the B.C. NDP forged an agreement with the Green party that put Kinder Morgan squarely in the crosshairs if the lieutenant governor hands power to the opposition parties following a confidence vote expected next month in the legislature.
The pact explicitly lays out what the two parties will do if given power: “Immediately employ every tool available to the new government to stop the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the seven-fold increase in tanker traffic on our coast and the transportation of raw bitumen through our province.”
Coincidentally, Tuesday was also the day that the firm hoped to raise $1.7 billion to proceed with its final investment decision, paving the way for construction to start. It set the share price at just $17 but never reached its goal. Still, the firm was pleased.
“This is an exciting day for our customers, for communities and for the many individuals who are relying on this project to deliver jobs and economic benefits to their communities,” said president Ian Anderson. “This securing of financing for the project demonstrates the need for and interest in the opportunity for Canada to have better access to world markets.”
The fine print of the company’s Initial Public Offering warned about what seems imminent: a change in B.C.’s government away from the pro-pipeline B.C. Liberals, to whom Kinder Morgan and associated firms donated more than $500,000 since 2005.
“Changes in government, loss of government support, public opposition and the concerns of special-interest groups and nongovernmental organizations,” the company’s share-sell prospectus stated, “may expose the business to higher costs, delays or even project cancellations.”
But with so many permits already approved, it’s unclear whether a potential NDP minority government could succeed in such a feat.
Protesters from Tsleil-Waututh Nation paddle toward a Trans Mountain facility in Burnaby to conduct a water blessing ceremony on May 14.