Five truths about the Trans Mountain pipeline

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This letter from Kinder Morgan Canada Vice President of regulatory and Finance, Scott Stoness, was originally published as an op-ed in the April 25, 2017 issue of the Times Colonist and was written in response to an op-ed published on April 12, 2017.

I’m writing to clarify information written in an April 12 article that stated five supposed myths about the need for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and our commitment to building and operating this pipeline to the highest environmental and safety standards.

The first truth is that last month, 13 shippers confirmed 15- to 20-year commitments to take up all of the available long-term firm service capacity on the expanded pipeline. This demonstrates the strong commercial support and demand that exists for much-needed access to global markets that the Project will bring.

The second truth is that the National Energy Board (NEB) determined there is a very low probability of a Project spill resulting in a significant effect. Trans Mountain has existing measures to prevent incidents and we’ve committed to additional and new preventative and mitigation measures designed to reduce the risk of fires and spills, many of which exceed regulatory requirements. We are also enhancing our emergency response plans to ensure we’re prepared to respond if a spill were to occur, taking into account the requirements of the expanded system.

Also, Canada’s oil spill response regime is based on a strict ‘polluter pay’ principle. That means neither the public, nor any level of government would have to have to pay if a spill were to occur. The same ‘polluter pay’ principle exists for the marine shipping industry.

That said, Trans Mountain has been safely loading vessels for more than 60 years at our marine terminal without a single spill from a tanker. While the region’s safety regime already meets global standards, we’ve committed to additional measures that will further improve safety along the shipping route.

The third truth is that according to the Conference Board of Canada, the expansion will create the equivalent of 15,000 jobs per year during construction and 37,000 per year during operations. Trans Mountain has committed to a “BC First” policy for hiring and contracting work within BC, giving qualified and competitive BC companies the first opportunity at the jobs building, operating and maintaining the pipeline system. The Project will bring both dollars and many thousands of jobs at a time when our economy needs it most.

The price of gasoline is always of interest to the public. There are a number of factors that impact pump prices including world oil prices, wholesale prices, retail mark-up and taxes.  An expanded pipeline provides Trans Mountain’s customers with more options and capacity and is unlikely to make any impact to local fuel prices, either positively or negatively, because fuel prices are primarily driven by world oil prices.

The fourth truth is that pipelines account for about one per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, and our pipeline will be the first pipeline in Canada to offset all direct GHG emissions generated from Project construction.

Climate change is an important global issue requiring action across industries and around the globe.  We recognize our place and our role in the industry and we’re committed to working with government and stakeholders to advance strategies that will reduce emissions and minimize our environmental footprint.

The fifth truth is that Trans Mountain underwent the most comprehensive and rigorous regulatory review in the history of the NEB. The review included 400 Intervenors with full process rights and responsibilities and 1,250 Commenters who were able submit letters to the Board.

During the review, we answered more than 17,000 questions, presented thousands of pages of scientific evidence, conducted the very best environmental and technical studies, completed detailed engineering and design work, and consulted with communities, stakeholders, landowners and Aboriginal groups along the corridor.  After all of this, the NEB and the Government of Canada concluded that the Project is in the Canadian public interest.

The world has changed since the original Trans Mountain Pipeline was built in 1953. We need an expanded pipeline system that is safe and efficient and will provide access to new, high-paying markets.

By working together we can build an expansion that balances community, environmental and economic interests, and delivers lasting benefits for Canadians. Today, we’re more confident than ever that this is the right project, at the right time, for Canada.

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