Activists ruin tea, chat with Kinder Morgan

Last Wednesday, my fears about Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion were to be soothed.

Last Wednesday, my fears about Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion were to be soothed. I was about to learn everything there is to know about B.C.’s other pipeline when a horde of activists descended upon the company’s open house, tore down the carefully arranged signage, and sat on it, obscuring my view.

Despite having been made aware of my desperate need to know what the short-term job impacts of the project might be, the group replaced the company’s signs with their own. The new signs detailed Kinder Morgan’s crimes against the environment, indigenous peoples and the local economy  — things no sensible person has any interest in. I was about to lodge a complaint with a Kinder Morgan representative when I discovered that at the first sign of potent opposition they had fled their own event.

Thankfully, I had a chance to speak to Kinder Morgan representative Lizette Bell beforehand, who assured me that until last week the public’s response to the company’s open houses had ranged from entirely positive to mildly concerned. More importantly, Bell’s employer had heard my main concern: which route out of Alberta will the pipeline expansion take, North or South? Later, she would similarly soothe one activist’s concerns about water quality with the reassuring notion that “there’s lots of water.”

For those unfamiliar with the project, Kinder Morgan is currently drumming up support for its pending application to more than double the capacity of its Trans Mountain Pipeline from 300,000 to 750,000 barrels per year. While managing to dodge the public relations battle currently raging over Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project, the tide is beginning to turn with a series of high-profile spills and growing  concern about the flood of pipeline projects looming over B.C.

Despite numerous protests directed at the project and its investors, debate among politicians and pundits has managed to stay focused on the most important issue: how much money, exactly, can the B.C. government expect to make off of this project? While activists would have us talking about the fleet of new oil tankers weaving carelessly through our coastal waters, Kinder Morgan’s refusal to acknowledge the dissent of indigenous peoples living near the pipeline, or the threat of spills in B.C.’s interior, we should remind ourselves what’s important: tax revenue. M

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