British Columbia Premier Christy Clark says conditions are satisfied to triple the capacity of the existing Trans Mountain oil pipeline. Photo courtesy of the premier's office
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Provincial leaders in Canada praised measures that made it so that Kinder Morgan could move forward with long-awaited expansions to a heavy oil pipeline.
The provincial government of British Columbia said it was satisfied that pipeline company Kinder Morgan had met the conditions to move forward safely with plans to nearly triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline to the western coast.
"We set the bar high to stand up for British Columbia to protect our coast and environment, ensure opportunities for First Nations participation and secure a fair share of economic benefits for all British Columbians," Premier Christy Clark said in a statement.
Last year, the National Energy Board outlined its recommendations for the expansion of the Trans Mountain in a 500-page decision. While laying out more than 150 conditions, the NEB's provisional consent decision said there considerable benefits "nationally, regionally and to some degree locally" that outweigh the potential risks of expanding the coastal pipeline.
Gregor Robertson, the mayor of Vancouver who's touted a "green brand" for the city, said the decision by the Clark administration was a profound disappointment. Energy plans for the western Canadian coast have riled conservation groups and members of the aboriginal community worried about the condition of the region's environment.
"Vancouver will continue to raise concerns about Kinder Morgan's massive expansion that could bring seven times the number of oil tankers to our waters," he said in a statement.
Robertson said the decision is at odds with a city agenda to shift to a cleaner economy. By his account, the city's green agenda helped create more than 90,000 jobs last year and the expanded pipeline could put that growth at risk.
Kinder Morgan would nearly triple the capacity to around 890,000 barrels of oil per day from a system that leaked an estimated 25 barrels in June 2014.
For Alberta, an oil-rich province that saw drastic economic downturns last year because of the low price of oil, the Kinder Morgan approval was welcome news.
"We are now closer than ever to breaking Alberta's landlock and fixing a problem that has dogged our province for decades," Premier Rachel Notely said.
Nearly all of Canada's oil exports target the U.S. market and the expansion could open trade corridors outside North America.