An attack on local decision-making

Trudeau government teams up with Texas pipeline company to try to crush Burnaby, B.C. jurisdiction

Kinder Morgan thinks it’s above the law. What’s far more disturbing is that apparently the Canadian government does too.

It began this summer, when the Texas pipeline company illegally installed anti-spawning nets in B.C. riverbeds. The National Energy Board did not even notice until PIPE UP Network researcher Lynn Perrin raised the alarm. Even though the board admitted that Kinder Morgan violated the NEB Act, there have been zero consequences. That was Kinder Morgan’s first move to thumb their nose at Canadian law — and it would not be the last.

Emboldened by their first foray into unlawful construction, Kinder Morgan then submitted a motion to their friends at the National Energy Board to let them build without permits again — with impunity. As we saw Thursday, the NEB was more than happy to oblige.

The federal regulator’s ruling enables Kinder Morgan to bypass specific Burnaby permits. But it was only the first part of the Texas company’s request before the NEB. A second motion, still under consideration, requests an ongoing process to strike down any municipal or provincial due diligence that gets in Kinder Morgan’s way.

In short, it’s not just Burnaby’s jurisdiction that Kinder Morgan is attacking. Their other request could help them quash the authority of any municipality along the expansion route and even the B.C. government.

That’s right: an industry-funded regulator in Calgary has teamed up with a Houston corporation to bypass local oversight designed to protect the public interest. British Columbians should rightfully be angry and on guard — and people all over Canada should worry about this slippery slope.

Here are three questions for the federal government we must keep doggedly asking:

Why did they do it?

As Burnaby’s legal team pointed out in last week’s hearing, the city was engaging in good faith with Kinder Morgan in their regular municipal permitting process. But the company’s applications didn’t meet the basic standards Burnaby would apply to any other applicant. Kinder Morgan failed to hire anyone with previous experience in the Burnaby permitting process.

Kinder Morgan’s own incompetence is not a good reason to get to break B.C. laws. Canada’s industry-captured oil regulator seems to think it is. Of course, we don’t really know what exactly motivated their decision — because they have yet to issue any explanation.

I’m glad both Burnaby and B.C. are exploring their options to appeal. Like most people who have tangled with Canada’s oil regulator in defence of democracy, water, health and safety, I do not trust the NEB. And frankly, I find it appalling they would help Kinder Morgan break Burnaby’s laws without providing a single reason why, other than their own bias in support of the project.

Who will look after local people?

Here’s another scary thought for you: now that Burnaby is no longer allowed to regulate within their jurisdiction, who else will be watching Kinder Morgan?

“Municipal staff were worried about legitimately municipal things, like parking and traffic and sediment, and all of those things are now at risk,” explained Burnaby’s lawyer Greg McDade. “When gravel trucks come out on to Barnet Highway, are they going to be able to respect cycling lanes and bus stops and stuff like that?”

If Burnaby isn’t allowed to look after those concerns, who will? Are we supposed to trust the NEB to do so, from their perch in Calgary?

How many more promises will Justin Trudeau break?

Justin Trudeau is not the first pipeline-pushing prime minister to get the NEB to do his dirty work. We must hold him accountable for his government’s aggressive attempt to strip municipalities and even the B.C. government of their permitting jurisdiction.

When Trudeau approved Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, he promised to enforce 157 legally-binding conditions. Yet this week’s ruling exempts the Texas pipeline company from complying with condition two of their approval in the case of specific Burnaby permits.

Let’s be very clear: this isn’t just the NEB. When it comes to Kinder Morgan’s remaining request for an ongoing process to bypass local and provincial permitting, Justin Trudeau’s government formally filed their support last Tuesday.

Not only is his government turning a blind eye to the Texas company’s violation of those conditions, they are now actively supporting Kinder Morgan’s efforts to continue to do so.

Ever since Prime Minister Trudeau approved this project, we’ve been wondering how far he’s willing to go to force this oil tanker expansion through. As of last week, the gloves are off.

13 Responses to “An attack on local decision-making”

  1. peter says:

    I will not vote for Trudeau in next election

  2. Kitty says:

    When you have construction going on anywhere the first thing they do is shut the sidewalks and bicycle lanes down until they are finished for safety reasons. Happens in every city every day and really after all the picture is much bigger than bicycle lanes and ‘stuff’ . Seems a lot of BCers value bike lanes rather than jobs and heating homes.

  3. Llyn Conder says:

    As Canada’s Prime Minister, your prime ministration is the ongoing strength and success of Canada as a country, a nation, and a significant component of our planet. Your personal championing of an expedient harm shames you, and taints Canada’s function as an important global source of courteous good will and cherished natural environment. Please rise above this temporary oil-fired insanity and return to your ‘Earth first’ position. You have the skills; you have the tools.

  4. Susan Chief says:

    I’m truly disappointed in my federal government. Never thought it would come to this.

  5. Peggy Lalor says:

    This same insanity is affecting everywhere until we stop fighting against each other and concentrate on the “money”. Corporate money buys political favours. Both the left and right NEED mother earth to exist so figure it out!

    • Lisa Sammartino says:

      We were also concerned about big money in politics. That’s why we launched our “Ban Big Money” campaign and are now working on a Corruption Inquiry (www.CorruptBC.ca) 🙂 – Lisa

  6. Morey Smith says:

    Justin Trudeau has Shares in Imperial Oil (Esso) One of The Principal Shippers.

  7. This industrial development is in the wrong location.

  8. Trudeau put on a big show for us the Paris climate summit, I wonder if those people in Europe know what an empty shirt he is? Just when we are converting to electric vehicles and our salmon returns have have decimated dead zones and fish farms.

  9. That should have been: returns have been decimated by dead zones and fish farms.

  10. Sean says:

    Awful just everybody shut up keep paying all your taxes don’t voice any displeasure be scared be afraid of your own government

  11. Sean says:

    All our governments are corrupt from municipal all the way to federal wake up nothing will change till we stop and ask real questions on what your paying for… or if we stop paying they will listen fast! 65 million dollar bridge in Victoria is years behind schedule years and over 40 million 40! Why would anyone pay for any business to run as shitty as our governments please people wake up

  12. Sean says:

    40 million over budget

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