Was Kinder Morgan’s pipeline effectively reviewed the government?

  • No. The federal approval process was deeply flawed. Unfortunately the National Energy Board (NEB) refused to consider upstream or downstream carbon emissions before approving this project. The NEB process was rushed and intervenors were denied typical elements of a quasi-judicial process including the ability to cross-examine industry experts or even attend hearings. The flawed process created a broad and unsurprising perception of bias.
  • Green Party leader and federal MP Elizabeth May, who was an intervenor, has said “the abuse of normal rules for procedural fairness was breathtaking.”  More on the problems of the NEB process can be read here and here.

Will the Canadian economy suffer if the project isn’t approved?

  • Let’s put this in perspective: Real estate is by far Canada’s largest sector overall, contributing a full 13% of national GDP. Manufacturing and retail and wholesale trade are also significant, each bringing in some 11% of GDP, followed by construction and finance, which each generate 7% of GDP. By comparison, the Alberta oil sands contribute just 2% of GDP—a number that has stayed relatively consistent over the past decade. The BC economy is perhaps most at risk of a Kinder Morgan oil tanker spill and the economic benefits of the Trans Mountain project are even more negligible. (source)
  • Furthermore, as one recent op-ed pointed out: “doubling down on Trans Mountain by using taxpayer funds to subsidize one company at the expense of its Canadian competitors and risking a major conflict that will do irreparable damage to Canada’s reputation is a risky course.”

Will Canadians lose jobs if the project isn’t approved?

    • This is a complex question, but it is very difficult to argue that Kinder Morgan’s pipeline will actually lead to meaningful job creation in Canada. First, it’s undeniable that the Alberta economy has been geared towards oil sands development for some time now, and that the sector has greatly contributed to Canada’s economic development over the past 50 years. However, since the downturn in oil prices in recent years, the number of jobs in the oil sands has been shrinking. Today, roughly 3% of Canadians work in oil and gas extraction nationally, and only a subset of those are in oil sands jobs. (Source)
    • This pipeline and tanker project projects creating just 50 permanent jobs projected in BC and 40 in Alberta, according to the proponent’s documentation. Putting this in perspective, a single new Amazon.com Inc office recently announced in Vancouver will add 3,000 permanent, high-paying jobs.

    • Construction jobs would be temporary and, according to Kinder Morgan, would mostly be filled by a non-local workforce. According to a report authored by the Goodman Group and Simon Fraser University, the project would generate (at most) 4,000 short-term jobs a year – less than 0.2% of total provincial employment. At the same time, the pipeline and tanker project threatens $9.7 billion in GDP and 98,000 jobs thar are supported by the BC coastline.
    • In fact, some argue that net raw bitumen exports would actually cost jobs in Alberta. As noted in Policy Magazine, “The largest union in the oil sands, Unifor, intervened before the NEB. Unifor attempted to enter evidence that building Kinder Morgan would cost jobs; shipping out unprocessed solid bitumen to refineries in other countries ships out Canadian jobs at the same time and increases the carbon footprint of the product [...] Shipping solid bitumen diluted with toxic fossil fuel condensate for export bypasses the last remaining refinery in Burnaby. The refinery cannot process bitumen. It has already cut its workforce by 30 per cent and if Kinder Morgan goes ahead, it will likely close.”
    • Regardless of whether this project goes ahead, Alberta oil sands jobs are unlikely to grow in the future. As one recent study points out: Despite production growth, jobs in the extraction and distribution portions of the industry have been relatively flat since 2006 and declined in 2015 with the downturn in oil price.”
    • Let’s also remember that since 2015 there have been more jobs in clean energy in Canada than oil sands jobs. Some of these jobs are at risk from a Kinder Morgan tanker spill. In fact, more people in Canada work in the beer economy than in the oil sands.

Why are Indigenous peoples suing the government over the project’s approval?

  • Less than a third of the affected First Nations have signed benefits agreements with Kinder Morgan. This means that the vast majority have not signed any kind of agreement.
  • Under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)—which the Government of Canada has committed to implement—if even one nation doesn’t consent, then the project cannot happen. As Chief Judy Wilson said while presenting a shareholder resolution at Kinder Morgan’s 2018 AGM, “The new reality is that there is a changed political landscape in BC with recognition our inherent Indigenous Title and Rights, the implementation without qualification of the UN Declaration and the Truth and Reconciliation 94 Calls for Action across our country, overdue legal recognition of our title declaration of our territorial title, and especially free, prior and informed consent.”
  • This project is not compatible with UNDRIP. All three Indigenous Nations whose territory is directly affected by the pipeline are standing together in opposition. It’s important to realize that in BC this land is unceded: it is not under treaty. It is sovereign land of the Indigenous Nations and they have said no to this pipeline.
  • Allegations have also been raised that the federal government didn’t follow proper consultation processes with First Nations before greenlighting the project. A recent investigation into the government’s own consultation by the National Observer alleges that the process was “rigged.” The investigation found that at least one month before the pipeline was approved, a high-ranking public servant instructed cabinet to find a “legally-sound basis to say ‘yes’” to the Kinder Morgan Pipeline. These allegations are now being reviewed by the Federal Court of Appeal.
  • See here for a backgrounder of the legal challenges to Kinder Morgan’s pipeline.