Kinder Morgan says pipeline construction will start next month, despite NDP government statement

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      This morning, Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman announced a tough new approach toward Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project.

      Heyman told reporters that the company "cannot put shovels in the ground" on public land as the government awaits advice from lawyer Tom Berger, an expert in Indigenous legal issues.

      It didn't take long for Kinder Morgan Canada Limited to issue a response.

      “We are committed to working with the province and permitting authorities in our ongoing process of seeking and obtaining necessary permits and permissions,” president Ian Anderson said in a news release. “We have undertaken thorough, extensive and meaningful consultations with Aboriginal peoples, communities, and individuals, and remain dedicated to those efforts and relationships as we move forward with construction activities in September.”

      Kinder Morgan can engage in construction on its own property and in the province of Alberta, so Anderson's statement doesn't directly contradict what Heyman said.

      The corporation's share price was off 1.77 percent today, closing at US$19.39.

      The company obtained National Energy Board approval to nearly triple shipments of Alberta oil to the Lower Mainland through its Trans Mountain system. That would result in about 400 oil tankers per year passing through Burrard Inlet.

      Anderson's statement sets the stage for a messy legal battle over B.C.'s ability to affect a National Energy Board decision over a pipeline that crosses provincial boundaries.

      Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema has issued a statement praising the government's action and declaring that it's "yet another indication that this pipeline will never be built".

      "Kinder Morgan does not have the permits it needs, and there is now even greater doubt that they will secure them," Hudema said. "Strong opposition from First Nations, the general public, and even the provincial government should make it clear to banks, investors, and oil companies alike that pipelines like Trans Mountain won't be part of our future energy economy, which is transitioning ever more quickly to renewables."

      Hudema added that if the B.C. government is serious about using every tool in its toolbox to fight the pipeline, it will "fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as part of its stated commitment to respect Indigenous rights, including the right to free, prior, and informed consent".

      Meanwhile, B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver has highlighted the government's actions in a fundraising email sent out this afternoon.

      "Make no mistake: without your support this election this may never have happened," Weaver wrote. "Please add your name to the list of BC Greens who are donating towards our $45,000 fundraising goal for August 19. The funds will help us keep moving British Columbia away from last century’s fossil fuel industry and towards clean tech and the value-added resource sector."