Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Is Kinder Kinder?
Pressure ramps up to move pipeline away from Chilliwack water
Ian Stephen, WaterWealth/Voice file photos
Protesters lock arms in a 2014 demonstration.
owhere has opposition to the proposed route of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline been stronger than in Chilliwack, B.C. The Mayor, First Nations, the Chamber of Commerce and many individual residents have written the NEB with the primary concern being protection of drinking water. A May 5 press release from the City urged that “Residents should let the NEB know that the protection of our aquifer is a priority”.
The WaterWealth Project had been helping residents do just that, talking with people in the community andhosting events where residents’ questions could be answered and statements of opposition filled out in advance of what was originally a May 7 deadline. At last count a total of 375 statements of opposition had been filed with the National Energy Board, 188 of them from Chilliwack.
Dr. David Ellis photo of the wear and tear on the pipeline in the Fraser Canyon.
Meanwhile, gaffes by Kinder Morgan in the process prompted motions from theTownship of Langley and WaterWealth. The NEB followed up demanding an update from Kinder Morgan and the company’s comments on the motions. In its response the company volunteered to republish notices along the entire almost 1200 kilometre pipeline route, file and distribute errata to the Plan, Profile and Book of Reference for many segments, and serve new notices to landowners affected by those errata. If approved by the NEB it will effectively restart the detailed route process, delaying decisions on the proposed route of the project by over a month.
“Up to the last day of the original deadline we were talking with residents who hadconcerns about the proposed pipeline route but who were unaware that there was a process for their concerns to be heard.” said Ian Stephen, Program Director at the Chilliwack based WaterWealth Project. “Now people will have until thirty days after Kinder Morgan serves and publishes new notices to file statements with the NEB to argue for a smarter, safer route for this project.”
A focal point of community concern in Chilliwack is the Sardis-Vedder Aquifer that is the source of drinking water for both the City of Chilliwack and Yarrow Waterworks. Kinder Morgan tried to allay Chilliwack residents’ concerns with advertisements carrying statements such as “we share the value you place on this important community water source”. Yet as details of pipeline plans became available it was learned that they planned to drill their pipeline 20 metres deep into the aquifer below residential neighbourhoods. That plan was unacceptable to the City, and attempts were made to work with the company to reach a solution. The Mayor’s statement “I am shocked that Kinder Morgan would be so dismissive” is clear indication that the company fell short.
The Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce weighed in with a letter to the NEB admonishing that “Kinder Morgan shows little concern for the safety of the Sardis Vedder aquifer and the city of Chilliwack's municipal water supply.” and that Kinder Morgan “did not include the Sardis Vedder aquifer and the City’s municipal water supply well intake/drawdown region as a concern in their alignment scenarios.” The Chamber continued “we cannot express how important the aquifer is for our entire community.”
If Kinder Morgan’s plan to address their failures in the detailed route process is accepted by the NEB, Chilliwack residents can look for new notices in the Chilliwack Progress May 31. Residents will have until June 30 to add their voice to the many calling for Kinder Morgan’s heavy oil pipelines to be moved off of the aquifer, a move that would also take the pipelines away from schools, residential neighbourhoods, salmon spawning grounds, the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve, and earthquake risk at the Vedder Mountain Fault.
The WaterWealth Project will be continuing community engagement to help residents protect the aquifer. More information including how to keep in touch as the prproceeds can be found here.
For more information, connect with WaterWealth here.
Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project has been approved, but the detailed route of the pipelinehas not. Under section 36 of the National Energy Board Act the Board will not approve the route of a pipeline until it has taken into account all written statements and representations made at public hearings “in order to determine the best possible detailed route of the pipeline and the most appropriate methods and timing of constructing the pipeline.”
Kinder Morgan started the detailed route process December 9, 2016 by filing with theNEB a Plan, Profile and Book of Reference (PPBoR), sample notices, and a publication plan for notices. After several steps the final schedule of publications was filed March 3, 2017, however actual publication of notices did not match the schedule filed and in at least one instance the PPBoR was not made available as the company had committed to do.
This resulted in several motions being filed to extend deadlines. The NEB gave Kinder Morgan until May 15 to respond. That response came on the 15th with a commitment to republish notices on the entire route, file errata for many segments of the route, post updated PPBoR at host locations along the route, and serve new notices to landowners affected by errata. Under section 34 of the NEB Act, deadlines for statements of opposition are determined by the dates of final publication and service of notices. By republishing notices Kinder Morgan effectively restarts the detailed route process, with new 30 day periods on all segments of the route for statements of opposition, and hearings pushed back until the Board can assess statements filed in the new period in addition to the hundreds already filed.
During the initial 30 day period that in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, and Surrey ended May 7, 2017, the WaterWealth Project sought to inform residents of the opportunity to participate in the detailed route approval process. Right up to that deadline WaterWealth volunteers were finding residents concerned about the project but unaware that there was a process for their concerns to be heard. Even when informed of the process, participation was complicated by problems with the NEB efile system such as Kinder Morgan’s project not being included in the list of projects and “statement of opposition” not being listed in the available document types to file. Efforts to participate in the process were further stymied when in the final days before the deadline the NEB website and efile system were only intermittently available as it underwent scheduled maintenance.
WaterWealth welcomes the additional time that the republishing of notices provides, to allow communities on the proposed route to defend their interests such as drinking water sources that are put at risk by the pipeline.