FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
VANCOUVER, BC, Coast Salish Territories – A report released today by the Ministerial Panel that conducted recent public meetings on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker proposal must lead to a rejection by Federal Cabinet, say environmental lawyers.
The 60-page report, made public this morning, outlines the key themes documented during the public sessions, and identifies six questions for the federal government to consider as it makes its final decision on the project. According to the Panel, the major issues include the need for reconciliation and respect for Indigenous rights and title, a lack of social licence, widespread dissatisfaction with the National Energy Board (NEB) review process, environmental concerns about the pipeline and tanker route, doubts about reconciling an approval of the pipeline with Canada’s climate commitments, and uncertainty around the project’s economic rewards and risks.
“The Ministerial Panel’s report raises very serious questions about whether Kinder Morgan’s project can be approved without running roughshod over Indigenous title and rights and violating Canada’s climate commitments, especially in the face of a shaky and speculative economic case,” said Jessica Clogg, Executive Director and Senior Counsel at West Coast Environmental Law Association. “It’s clear that these questions cannot be answered in Kinder Morgan’s favour, and the federal government should deny approval for this project.”
The report addresses the controversial nature of the project in Alberta and BC, stating that “the project is such that its principal benefits flow to Alberta while the environmental and economic risks fall much more heavily on British Columbia.”
“If nothing else, the public meetings sent a very clear message that BC communities do not grant permission for Kinder Morgan’s pipeline and tankers. Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from across Canada continue to speak out against the risk it poses to land, water, communities and the climate,” said Staff Counsel Eugene Kung.
The NEB’s earlier review of the Trans Mountain project has been widely criticized for a number of significant flaws – such as limiting public participation, failing to adequately consult First Nations, and failing to meaningfully test Kinder Morgan’s evidence while dismissing intervenor evidence about public health and risk. The NEB notoriously did not consider the impacts of a major spill because they did not consider it likely.
The Ministerial Panel was not without its own controversy, as allegations of conflict of interest arose surrounding Panel Chair Kim Baird, who had previously completed a job exchange with Kinder Morgan Canada. The rushed interim process was also conducted without input from First Nations, and failed to provide adequate notice to Indigenous communities.
In addition, the report reveals for the first time that the Panel quietly met with Trans Mountain, the NEB and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in advance of the public meetings – notably, no meetings are mentioned involving BC Premier Christy Clark.
“Restoring public faith in Canada’s regulatory system will take more than a hasty series of meetings, with a panel that had no real mandate or decision-making power,” said Clogg. “The Trans Mountain review was deeply flawed from the start, and it does not provide an adequate basis for the Federal Cabinet to make an informed decision.”
Now that the Panel has delivered its report, the Federal Cabinet is left to consider this information along with the flawed NEB report, an insufficient upstream greenhouse gas analysis, and any further information arising from First Nations consultation. A final decision is currently expected in December.
For more information, please contact:
Eugene Kung | Staff Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law