11 Mar 2014

Lower Mainland decides to attend while Ottawa and Calgary Plan its Future

Jonathan Hopkins writes:*

If you have ever visited the beach in Vancouver, you might find it hard to imagine increasing the number of oil tankers in English Bay by a factor of seven. This is precisely the increase in capacity that Calgary-based Kinder Morgan is seeking with a proposed $5.4 billion pipeline retrofit from Edmonton to Vancouver. Its not exactly shocking news given the pipeline fever spreading in almost every direction from Fort McMurray, but what I find very surprising is the hearing process of the National Energy Board. February 12th marks the last day that municipalities can file to secure a seat at the proceedings and represent the interests of their communities. Vancouver has declared its intentions to oversee the proceedings and joins other lower mainland and Fraser valley governments already registered. So basically, all the communities who will bear a majority of the risk if this project is approved are not automatically included?

The city of Vancouver’s local economy relies on safe and clear waterways for tourism and leisure industry revenue. The cities of the Fraser valley occupy among the most important agricultural lands in the province. A $5.4 billion pipeline expansion offers no more than a possible sixty new long-term employment opportunities in British Columbia. There appears to be a massive discrepancy between the risks and rewards here. Clearly the money isn’t staying in B.C., so how does the opportunity even exist for those affected the most to be excluded from this review? Well, apparently the NEB is completely satisfied with a perfunctory treatment of this issue: “The Board does not intend to consider the environmental and socio-economic effects associated with upstream activities, the development of oil sands, or the downstream use of the oil transported by the pipeline.”

Bottom Line: Somewhere in a sane universe, the affected communities are meeting with the province while Kinder Morgan and the NEB are filing paper work by the deadline to attend.

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.