Fraser Valley Regional District granted approval to Kinder Morgan last Tuesday to conduct a corridor study in Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park. The company’s existing pipeline is not located on this site, and this survey is believed to be preparation for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project.
All FVRD directors approved the decision, except Wendy Bales.
“I oppose this just in principle, because I don’t believe in the twinning of the pipeline, because of the bitumen and the toxins that would come with it. Even though it’s only exploratory, I’ll take a stand opposed to it,” Bales told the FVRD board on Tuesday.
“Although the tar sands are out of sight of the Fraser Valley, the impacts are globally destructive, and more so for people that live down stream,” added Bales in an email.
Kinder Morgan is seeking “voluntary compliance” from FVRD to enter land for survey work. The National Energy Board has the power to approve or reject survey work, and not the local government.
This is the first such request by Kinder Morgan to FVRD.
The survey will be non-intrusive, by foot only, and Kinder Morgan will give 48 hours notice before entering the land.
However, Director Dennis Adamson said that a constituent emailed him complaining that Kinder Morgan was on their property conducting surveys, even though the resident was “asked to sign, and they didn’t sign.” Adamson requested advice from the FVRD board on how to inform residents that Kinder Morgan has authority to enter their land irrespective of the residents’ permission.
Director John Van Laerhoven commented that he has not made a decision regarding the benefits or costs of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project. But he feels there is room to consider new technology.
“With the new technology that companies have now, do we prefer that we move fuel through a 40-50 year old pipeline, as opposed to a new one?” he asked the board.
Kinder Morgan has been contacting local residents to conduct legal and environmental studies throughout the Lower Fraser Valley, according to Michael Hale, an anti-pipeline activist with Pipe Up Network.
“They’re rushing ahead to formalize this expansion and get it accepted. All their communications and expansion are so that they can present a fait accompli to NEB,” said Hale.
The company has held public information sessions over the last year in the areas where the twinned pipeline would pass.
“The problem with that is that other people don’t have an opportunity unless they create it, an opportunity for responding. It is very hard to get into the hearings, assessments,” said Hale. “The worry of many residents that I’m hearing is, what say do we have?”
Kinder Morgan is planning to submit a project application to NEB in late 2013.
Amendments to the National Energy Board Act last summer mean that the NEB no longer has to weigh the environmental and social impacts that came out during public hearings in its decision to approve or reject the project.
The $5.4 billion Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project aims to twin the existing oil pipeline to increase shipping capacity from 300,000 barrels per day, to 890,000. If approved by NEB, construction could start in early 2016 and the pipeline would be operational by 2017, according to Kinder Morgan’s website.
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