Has Kinder Morgan Done its Homework?

Originally Published in the ECOreport

View of Vancouver – brianfagan, cc by 2.0

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May describes her experience as an intervenor in Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion application in a column called “The Twilight Zone” (page 3 of attached). She found most of the National Energy Board’s 15,000 page report “deliberately redundant and impenetrable. Some pages are repeated dozens of times, ditto maps and charts. Every presentation shown at any community hall is reproduced (even though the presentations were virtually identical.)” Kinder Morgan’s “tests” of dilbit (diluted bitumen) in salt water were so ludicrous that May entitled that section “Dilbit on the Comedy Channel.” Disturbing as her narrative is, it pales beside the questions the city of Vancouver is asking. Many are so basic that one is left wondering if there is any real information in the mountains of paperwork about this project. Has Kinder Morgan done its homework?

 Vancouver Skyline – worldomonation, cc by 2.0
Vancouver Skyline – worldomonation, cc by 2.0

Most of Vancouver’s requests are for basic information.

For example, (p 14) in its application Kinder Morgan makes frequent references to decisions made based on the “professional experience of the assessment team” or states the team was “highly qualified”. This prompted the City to request, “Please provide the names, education, training, and relevant experience of all environmental assessment team members listed, including TERA Environmental Consultants, Stantec Consulting Ltd., EBA Tetra-Tech, Triton Environmental Consultants, Rowan Williams Davies and Irwin Inc., Intrinsik Environmental Services Inc., and Vista Strategy Corp.”

Why didn’t Kinder Morgan provide “complete vegetation surveys, watercourse crossing assessments, and wetlands assessments.”

 Burrard Inlet – Gerry/tchodi, cc by 2.0

The groundwater assessments were inadequate: “Please apply Drinking Water standards to all groundwater quality assessments, and revise aquifer and well mapping and identification of potentially impacted areas, using the protection of groundwater as a future drinking water resource as a screening tool.”

BC is expecting a major earthquake at some point in the future, so could Kinder Morgan provide (p 29) assessments on “potential impacts of different types of earthquakes on the pipeline, including the risk of debris flows and landslides” and “contingency plans for responding to pipeline ruptures or incidents as a result of seismically triggered landslides or debris flows.”

 Stanley Park Seawall – Jody McIntyre, cc by 2.0
Stanley Park Seawall – Jody McIntyre, cc by 2.0

The most oft repeated concern is an oil spill:

(p 10) Has Trans Mountain completed an economic impact assessment for Canada and its regions, (including the direct and indirect effects on industries) which contemplates a marine spill scenario, affecting port activities and possible port closure? If it has undertaken this analysis, please provide.

(p 12) In assessing the economic impact of a spill, did you consider the effect on the region’s global reputation for livability especially as it relates to attracting investment and globally mobile talent? Is so, what impact did you asses? If not, why not?

(p 36) Please describe the types of insurance coverage (including exclusions, conditions and limits) that Trans Mountain would carry once the project expansion is completed and operating.

 Outdoor Weather on the Seawall - kennymatic, cc by 2.0
Outdoor Weather on the Seawall – kennymatic, cc by 2.0

There are 85 pages of information requests. Click on this link to access them.

The City of Vancouver will not be allowed to cross examine Kinder Morgan about these questions because the National Energy Board, acting under the instructions of the Canadian Government, is fast tracking this project. As Joe Oliver explained, when he was still Minister of Natural Resources, “radical groups” (concerned about the environment) “threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.” Prime Minister Stephen Harper is believed to have been under the influence of the Energy Policy Institute an industrial lobby group whose membership includes oil companies like Suncor, TransCanada, Enbridge, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers – when his government made the changes that make it possible for NEB to carry out restrictive hearings such as that being held for Kinder Morgan’s pipeline.

As Vancouver’s Mayor, Greg Robertson, points out, the NEB hearing process “meets no test of meaningful consultation.” It would seem that Big Oil’s need for money takes precedence over the welfare of Canada’s population.

Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands - Courtesy Parliament of CanadaKinder Morgan has carried out some tests, Elisabeth May’s described the ones for dilbit in seawater:

“Evidence for behavior of dilbit in the marine environment was conducted in Alberta over a thirteen-day period. Correct: 13 days of tests in Alberta.

“Researchers put salt water in tanks and then dumped in dilbit. Then they stirred and took other action they claimed approximated wind and wave action. The tanks held 26.5 m3 (7,000) gallons. Additional tests were done in a 1m x 1m x 1m fish tank and in plastic five gallon pails.I kid you not.

“The 7,000 gallon tanks in Gainford, Alberta were supposed to mimic the natural conditions found in Burrard Inlet, with temperatures of 10o C and at 7pH. As if the notion of a tank in Alberta representing the Salish Sea is not sufficiently absurd, the testing failed to meet the parameters the researchers had established. It got quite hot in Alberta during the 13 days of the testing, so the water in the tanks heated up to 19.5oC. The study reports that that temperature is okay as it would be like Burrard Inlet in the summer. (Have any of the Kinder Morgan brain trust ever been to Burrard Inlet in the summer?)”

Read the complete article on page 3 of the article this links to.

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