An open letter to Premier Christy Clark on the Kinder Morgan pipeline

Secret pipeline safety plans are the last straw; please take control of the process

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      Premier Christy Clark, we could really use your help.

      Texas-based Kinder Morgan seems to think they can build their pipeline across this province without even providing adequate information about safety. Instead of fairly and democratically engaging with the concerns of the people of B.C., what we have seen from Ottawa is a “streamlined” process that seems more like the Stephen Harper government steamrolling over the legitimate concerns of people in our province.

      With a federal process stacked against us, many across the province are asking for your help in standing up for B.C. and protecting our coast. A motion was passed at last year’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention representing all the municipalities in B.C. which requested that “the Province direct the Environmental Assessment Office to…undertake its own Environmental Assessment process for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, which should include sufficient opportunity for meaningful participation by all interested British Columbians.”

      First Nations have also been outspoken about their concerns about this broken process and legal challenges from the Tsleil Waututh and others have already been filed.

      Premier Clark, we have heard you expressing the concerns you share with a majority of British Columbians about the extreme risk posed by an increase in tanker traffic on our Pacific coast. This was, after all, one of the reasons the province officially submitted its official opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway proposal when it was before the National Energy Board (NEB) yet they still recommended it proceed against your government’s wishes.

      Now things have moved from bad to worse. Kinder Morgan, incredibly, will not even release the full details of their emergency response plan. Your government rightfully asked them to release this information to the public, but the NEB rejected this demand. This should be the last straw; the time to act is now. It’s becoming a case of “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

      As I’m sure you’ve seen, the NEB process that is set to decide on the Texas-based multinational’s pipeline has been described as a “disgrace” and “sham”. No less than a former board member of Suncor Energy, Marc Eliesen, even called it a “farce”, because of its clear “bias in favour of” Kinder Morgan.

      This broken process could even undermine social licence for projects that perhaps should be allowed to proceed, let alone eviscerating any sense of fairness or accountability in regards to the most controversial projects.

      With the upcoming Kinder Morgan NEB review, fewer Canadians were granted intervenor status, and more were denied participation altogether, on the pretext that they were not “directly affected”. The review process is now narrower than ever. Eliesen highlighted the fact that those who were granted intervenors status can’t even cross-examine the company.

      And of course the impact of this massive bitumen export pipeline on the climate is not even going to be considered by the NEB under Harper’s guidance. This stands in stark contrast to President Barack Obama’s commitment to incorporate climate impacts in to his final decision regarding the Keystone XL pipeline. Given B.C.’s Climate Action Plan and our leadership on carbon pricing this would be a key consideration for the B.C. government and should be included in what is considered to be an adequate assessment process.

      This pipeline review process being run by the NEB now seems more like a process for approving pipelines, not to weigh all the evidence and make a balanced decision. From your recent comments on the failings of the NEB assessment, it seems clear you are also doubtful of the ability of this process to protect our environment and the interests of local communities and First Nations.

      There has been a lot of talk about your five conditions for deciding if pipelines will be allowed across our province, bringing tankers to our shores. The current process is no way to decide, given that they are not even providing adequate information on safety, a baseline condition you have required. If you are serious about these conditions, then taking back control of the process to ensure it’s done right seems like a critical first step.

      With all due respect, now is the time to move beyond talk and take action. Please launch a new fair and transparent process that respects the values of the people of B.C. You have the power to take back control on our behalf; the time has come to use it.

      Yours truly,

      Ben West
      Executive Director
      Tanker Free B.C.

      If you would like to add your name to this open letter to the premier or send her your own thoughts on this matter please visit



      Be Honest

      Feb 12, 2015 at 7:50am

      Why pretend that you are interested in a safety plan when your goal is to have no pipelines or tanker traffic in the area? Isn't the name of your organization 'Tanker Free BC'? Doesn't that imply that you want no tankers in BC?

      The tone of this article is disingenuous and I do not trust Ben West.

      Bill Davidson

      Feb 12, 2015 at 9:32am

      Democracy or what?

      Think it through

      Feb 12, 2015 at 12:02pm

      Kinder Morgan does not release it emergency response plans? Perhaps it is because if there were an attack on the pipeline (as often threatened) it would give the attackers extra information on how to best cause the most damage?

      And I agree with Be Honest. Your goal is no tankers, not tanker safety.

      Earl Richards

      Feb 12, 2015 at 1:45pm

      The toxic, tar sands should not be permitted to pass the BC/AB border. Clark stop the tar sands at the border to put a stop to these controversies, protests and save the salmon. A tar sands spill down into the Fraser River will kill BC's salmon industry. Kinder Morgan has no plans to clean-up a spill, because they have no world-class clean-up equipment.

      carl shalansky

      Feb 12, 2015 at 2:32pm

      'Nuff Dithering--action time !
      Government will approve infrastructure ,IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST ;for export of natural resources and trade...thus we have highways,airports,harbours,utility corridors,etc....and national pipelines ,
      BC can offer a reasonable export ‘path’ for Alberta’s bitumen export by restricting bitumen tankers to ,less congested,more ‘open waters’ !
      We wait for the Harper’ ‘world class’ bitumen containment and recovery miracle’ ! In the meantime we must stop dithering and get this bitumen to world markets ;
      There CAN BE no perfect PIPELINE PLAN ,however here’s a common sense plan---build ONE (combined)BITUMEN PIPELINE SYSTEM from ALBERTA to PORT SIMPSON to ship to world markets... !
      Kinder Morgan’ recent suggestion that they intend to keep their emergency plans secret.. makes NO SENSE..
      ....some recent incident reports gives the public reason to believe that keeping secret their emergency plans sounds kind of goofy !
      Some examples ;
      1. Burnaby, Inlet Drive .....after the pipeline was first damaged...
      “The initial decision ......was not in conformity with (company) standard emergency shut-down procedures.”
      2. Kalamazoo,Michigan ! “.... made possible by pervasive organizational failures at Enbridge..........: Inadequate training of control center personnel,............ “

      Emergency plans are required(for that inevitable emergency) and must be discussed and amalgamated with community emergency organizations ..
      Carl Shalansky,(P.Eng.,retired)

      judith kemp

      Feb 12, 2015 at 11:56pm

      This is a well written honest request. We have not yet seen anything but political posturing on the part of our Premier. The authority given to the NEB was established by you Christy Clark when you agreed to give the Federal Government (NEB) such extreme authority in BC. When are you going to take genuine steps to protect our coast? Why not rehire some of the scientists laid off by the federal government to go over the Pipeline Safety Plan which of course you must have access to. What agreements of nondisclosure have you signed.? We the people of British Columbia need to to be honest with us.

      Tom McDonald

      Feb 13, 2015 at 11:38am

      Christy Clark is in bed with big oil, she will do nothing more than tell lies.

      Ann-Marie Hunter

      Feb 13, 2015 at 8:18pm

      Well done, Ben! An honest representation of the riduculous nature of proceedings in BC with respect to Kinder Morgan's plans. What really doesn't make sense to me is why those who are in the positions of power do not think it's strange to allow a Texas company into our beautiful province and to give them the opportunity to put at risk our environment, animals, plants and people! What right do they have? And what right do the governments have to give away our beautiful province?

      Forward Thinker

      Feb 13, 2015 at 9:48pm

      Pretty hard to say the response plan is world class when you cannot se it Cristy?

      Forward Thinker

      Feb 13, 2015 at 9:54pm

      To"think it through":
      If some sort of attack is the reason for not releasing a response plan to BC, would that not also be true for the Washington State part?
      I guess you never thought it through before you posted.