Environmentalists applaud B.C. NDP opposition to Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion

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      The B.C. NDP has already made clear its opposition to Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline.

      On Earth Day (April 22), NDP Leader Adrian Dix indicated that his party would also make things difficult for another oil pipeline proposal—Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion.

      It's a position that's winning praise from environmental organizations which have been fighting the expansion of the Alberta tar sands as well as increases to oil tanker traffic on the B.C. coast.

      “The majority of British Columbians oppose putting our coast at risk of an oil spill for so little benefit. While the oil industry and pundits outside B.C. are sure to criticize the NDP’s position, the party has done the right thing by siding with citizens and taking a principled stand against oil tanker proposals. It is, after all, the job of politicians to represent their constituents," Eric Swanson, campaign director for the Dogwood Initiative, said in a statement.

      “On the flip side, the B.C. Liberals have effectively not taken a position on the second most important issue on the minds of most voters in this provincial election and, if anything, have indicated they’d be willing to sell out B.C.’s coast for the right price.”

      Kinder Morgan wants to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline, which carries tar-sands oil from Edmonton to a shipping terminal in Burnaby. This would expand the system's capacity to 890,000 barrels of oil per day, and lead to more tankers visiting Vancouver Harbour.

      “They are talking about an increase of five- or six-fold [in capacity] and I think that transforms Vancouver into a major oil export port,” Dix told reporters at a news conference today in Kamloops, according to the Globe and Mail.

      “I don’t think people in Vancouver see that as the right way to go, and I don’t think that’s the right way to go.”

      Sierra Club B.C. applauded Dix's position that the NDP does not support a major increase in oil tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet.

      "That proposal would see more than 400 oil tankers a year travelling past Victoria and the Gulf Islands. An oil spill could be catastrophic for B.C.’s south coast and would jeopardize jobs in important industries such as tourism and fishing. The risk of an oil spill is far too great, and the 10 to 15 percent industry standard for clean-up is far too small," Sarah Cox, interim executive director of Sierra Club B.C., said in a statement.

      In another statement, Ben West, tar sands campaign director for ForestEthics Advocacy, said, "We are happy to hear that the BC NDP intends to stand up to the Harper government and defend our coast and our climate by opposing both of these pipelines."



      Forward Thinker

      Apr 22, 2013 at 8:58pm

      I could live with refined oil products being shipped if there was a commitment to fully reimburse any loss of income and tax revenue in addition to fully funded clean up....whatever that means. But when I listen to Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, the Feds and Alberta talk on the subject, they just do not appear to care what happens to BC. Trans Mountain does not even commit to supply the refinery in Burnaby, resulting in Cheveron having to bring feedstock in by rail. They barely even pay lip service to clean up plans if a spill occurs. They cannot even acknowledge that bitumen behaves differently than other oil.
      That being the situation, I am not in a mood for anyone who entertains the idea of bitumen being shipped from our coast.

      Mike Priaro

      Apr 23, 2013 at 4:28am

      Dix didn't exactly say he was against the TransMountain expansion, only that he doesn't want to see Vancouver become a major port for the export of dilbit.

      Let's straighten out the terminology once and for all.

      What underlies 54,132 square miles of land in northern Alberta is neither "oilsands" as used by proponents or "tarsands" as used by opponents but bitumen-coated sand.

      Bitumen is dark and thick like cold molasses, and does produce some tar once processed, but it is not tar.

      Neither is it oil until upgraded to a suitable refinery feedstock like syncrude which requires further refining into useable oil products. Get it? Raw bitumen, then dilbit or syncrude, then oil. Tar, or asphalt, is produced only in relatively small quantities at upgraders and refineries.

      Dilbit is a mix of raw bitumen and solvents that drives environmentalists into a tizzy, with justification, because if spilled the raw bitumen, unlike all other crudes and oils, eventually sinks in water making it difficult and expensive, if not impossible, to clean up.

      The Deltaport in Tsawassen already has a coal terminal and a container terminal and a ferry terminal nearby.

      Build a short pipeline to a new marine terminal at Tsawassen. That eliminates all large dilbit tanker traffic in Vancouver's inner and central harbours and Burrard inlet.

      Insist that no dilbit is carried by the TransMountain pipeline, only conventional crudes, syncrude and upgraded bitumen.

      Perhaps also relocate the refinery to Delta and re-build it to world-leading environmental standards.

      For a complete discussion of the ownership, extraction, physical properties, upgrading, pipelining, refining, distribution, marketing, and export of bitumen and the associated economic, environmental, engineering and energy security issues see: