VANCOUVER – Premier Christy Clark says the federal government is close to meeting British Columbia’s five conditions for its approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, but with those conditions come about a dozen other sticking points.
“The federal government, through its work as the result of our very hard work over the last four-and-a-half years, has come very very close to making sure they meet the five conditions we set out,” she said Wednesday at a news conference in Vancouver.
Clark said her government is still working with Ottawa on spill response and it wants assurances on jobs and the economic benefits for B.C.
B.C.’s five conditions include world-leading marine and land oil spill response and prevention, First Nations participation and opportunity, a fair share of economic benefits and successful environmental reviews.
But while Clark was optimistically suggesting the five conditions would be met well before the spring election, B.C.’s environment minister fired off a letter to three federal cabinet ministers listing 10 gaps in marine spill response.
“The decision by Canada to provide Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion with a certificate to proceed means there will be an increase in vessel traffic and associated risks to B.C.’s coast,” Environment Minister Mary Polak says in the letter released Wednesday by the province.
“It is essential that is done safely and that our coast is appropriately protected in case of any type of accident.”
Among the 10 gaps in marine spill response are: clarification of the proposed ban on tanker traffic in B.C.’s northern waters, adequate coast guard services for the West Coast and timely readiness of federal funds to cover costs of spill responses and clean ups.
Earlier this month, the federal government announced a $1.5 billion marine safety plan that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said will make Canada a world leader in protecting the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans.
Clark said earlier the Oceans Protection Plan goes a long way toward protecting B.C.’s coast, but more work needed to be done if Kinder Morgan was approved.
A Conference Board of Canada report earlier this year found the Kinder Morgan expansion project would generate $18.5 billion in revenues for the federal and provincial governments over the first 20 years of operations.
B.C.’s fifth condition, which seeks a fair share of fiscal and economic benefits that reflect the level of risk borne by the province, is tied to the economic returns of the Kinder Morgan project.
“(The premier) has always said it’s about the company. It’s not about the other provinces or anybody else,” said a senior B.C. government official, speaking on a background basis.
Talks about meeting the fair share condition are on hold and awaiting the results of a soon-to-be complete B.C. environmental assessment of the Kinder Morgan project, the official said.
Trudeau announced Tuesday that the project will be approved with 157 conditions. The project would triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline, from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels a day, and add 980 kilometres of new pipe along the route from near Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C.
It would also increase the number of tankers leaving Vancouver-area waters seven-fold, from five to 34 per month, prompting fierce opposition from local mayors and First Nations who say any risk of a diluted-bitumen spill is unacceptable.