Following an assessment, the provincial government has granted environmental approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
The $6.8 billion expansion was granted federal approval in late November.
At a press conference earlier this afternoon, Premier Christy Clark told the media that the five conditions for her approval of the expansion had been met, thanks to the federal government's committment to protect the B.C. coast by way of a $1.5-billion ocean protection plan, as well as a number of agreements with Kinder Morgan that would see the province's overall financial benefit bolstered.
"As part of the five conditions, we've made it clear that British Columbia deserves a fair share of the economic benefits that result from the project," said Clark.
The province has reached an agreement with Kinder Morgan that the company will "put British Columbians first" when it comes to hiring employees to build and maintain the pipeline.
A revenue sharing agreement has also been established between Kinder Morgan and the province. This will see $50 million a year going directly into an environmental protection fund, which will include a "clean communities" program.
In a statement issued earlier today, Environment Minister Mary Polak and Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman explained their reasons for awarding an environmental assessment certificate to the project, which would see the doubling of Kinder Morgan’s 987-kilometre interprovincial pipeline between Burnaby and Edmonton.
“Today we issued an environmental assessment certificate for the project, understanding that all inter-provincial pipelines are under federal jurisdiction. We have looked at areas where we can improve the project by adding conditions that will build upon those already established by the federal government,” reads the statement.
The 37 conditions developed by the environmental assessment office are in addition to the 157 conditions already established by the National Energy Board.
Ministers say the added conditions will mandate continued consultation with Aboriginal groups and provincial agencies, and address their concerns in regards to wildlife, vegetation, and traditional use of the land.
Other conditions consider provincial parks as well as protected and recreational areas that will be affected by construction. More still will focus on increasing emergency preparedness and response in the event of a pipeline rupture.
“Clearly, the project will have economic benefits for British Columbia workers, families and communities,” the statement continues.
“However, we have always been clear economic development will not come at the expense of the environment. We believe environmental protection and economic development can occur together, and the conditions attached to the EA certificate reflect that.”
If completed, Kinder Morgan’s oil capacity would triple, bringing it to 890,000 barrels per day. It would also bring seven times the tanker traffic to the Strait of Georgia.
At the National Energy Board hearings last January, the provincial government formally opposed the expansion proposal.
In a statement released by the Dogwood Initiative following the announcement of the approval, coordinator Sophie Harrison wondered “how much oil money it took to flip them [the B.C. Liberals] on the issue.”
Although the party has not disclosed its corporate donations since March 2016, the non-profit found that at least $718,918 had been donated by Kinder Morgan, Trans Mountain, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, and a handful of other companies, including Nexen, Cenovus, and Imperial Oil, to the B.C. Liberals before that time.
“Christy Clark was right when she said this project was a bad deal for British Columbians,” said Harrison in a press release.
“It jeopardizes our existing economy, undermines reconciliation with First Nations and takes us in the wrong direction on climate change.”
Today's approval comes as the result of a January 2016 provincial court ruling, which determined that, in addition to being assessed by the National Energy Board, B.C. was also required to conduct its own, under the province’s Environmental Assessment Act.