NEB rules in favour of pipeline firm on Burnaby impasse
The National Energy Board has ruled that Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. could ignore the City of Burnaby’s bylaws and start construction in the municipality on its stalled Trans Mountain expansion project.
In an announcement Thursday, the NEB issued an order declaring the company was not required to comply with two sections of the British Columbia city’s bylaws related to preliminary plan approvals and to tree cutting permits.
“This decision allows the company to begin work at its temporary infrastructure site near the Westridge Marine Terminal, and some work at the Burnaby Terminal, subject to any other permits or authorizations that may be required,” the NEB said in a statement.
Gregory McDade, Burnaby’s lawyer, said the municipality will consider an appeal.
“We think the evidence was clear the municipality was regulating in good faith,” he said in an interview. “The NEB has ruled yet again in favour of the company, against the interest of the municipality, and that is a great concern to us.”
The regulators held two days of hearings in Calgary after the company complained the municipality, a staunch opponent of the $7.4-billion project, used stalling tactics to delay it, putting it in jeopardy. The tactics included saying its staff was too busy, requesting timeconsuming and unnecessary studies, duplicating information requests, and refusing to provide timelines.
On Monday, Kinder Morgan said lack of clarity around municipal permit processes and related judicial process could swell startup delays beyond previously expected nine months. The company says that it expects to lose about $75 million before certain deductions for every month the in-service date is pushed back.
The company promised the NEB it would follow the spirit of the bylaws, but could no longer wait for Burnaby to issue permits under a process it described as opaque and arbitrary. Six months after applying for them, it said it had yet to receive a single one and that it was in the dark about what it was required to do.
Without NEB action, the company said it would be impossible to predict when the project could be built.