Sunday, September 09, 2012

Trans Mountain Vs. Northern Gateway

Generally speaking, the expansion of Kinder-Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline has been regarded as an easier sell than Northern Gateway.  But this is because there has been an assumption that the "twinning" of lines will take place within the current right-of-way.  That is to say, Kinder-Morgan has rights to all the property  it needs to accommodate the extra pipe necessary to carry the extra tar-sands dilbit.  No additional land will need to be purchased, expropriated, or otherwise gained access to.  However, in so far as the right-of-way must be broadened, the odds of significant resistance to the expansion increases.  folks may be asked to give up property that they are unwilling to part with.  And it should be noted that Kinder-Morgan has yet to release a detailed route map.

Even so, several points along the route where the pipeline will breach the existing right-of-way have already been identified.  For example, Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart has argued that private land in the Greater Vancouver area may need to be expropriated to accommodate Trans Mountain.  And  Kinder-Morgan seems to have confirmed his conclusions.  From a May 30th story in Burnaby Now:

"In some urban areas, we may not be able to put a pipeline in our existing right-of-way because of urban infill, - but we're not at any level of detail to know at this point," [Kinder Morgan representative Lexa Hobenshield]  said. "The pipeline does run through some backyards in some locations."

In addition, several First Nation's bands in the vicinity of Merritt, B.C. have already rejected Kinder-Morgan's proposal for this very reason, among others (see bolded text):

Recently, three First Nations issued a joint statement saying they will not deal with Kinder Morgan. In mid-April, Whispering Pines, Coldwater, and Lower Nicola Indian bands said the company does not have a permit to operate the pipeline on their reserves, has not dealt adequately with past pipeline leaks on their land, and intends to take too much land for the expansion of the right of way and a 65-metre safety zone in addition.

Again, these are just the areas it is possible to identify as problematic without seeing a route map. And its worth noting that, in the case of the stalled Keystone XL pipeline, a line twinned to the existing line (the Keystone Corridor Alternative, by name) was considered and abandoned because TransCanada (the pipe owner) discovered that they could not keep the expansion within the extant right-of-way.  They would, in effect, have been forced to construct an entirely new pipeline adjacent to the one already in place.  Should anything like this prove to be the case with Kinder Morgan,  the odds of the project going through to completion will diminish accordingly.


Peter said...

This is starting to feel like a game of "Where's Waldo?" Waldo keeps trying to slip way and find a new hiding place only to be trailed by a horde of greenies that keep smoking him out.

Frunger said...

Doesn't it strike you as odd that this twinning is an easier sell? I thought the problem with the Northern Gateway was twofold: oil is bad and the risk of environmental disaster due to oil spill. A twinning doesn't solve either of those problems. A second pipeline along the same path or a new one is still another pipeline with the same failure risks.

Like so many other things the environmental movement latches onto. Once it's built the reality sets in that it was never as bad as they made it out to be.

ch said...

What exactly did Trudeau say that was new or different from what he has said previously? Previously, he said that he is against the Northern Gateway but thinks other west options should be looked at.