Houston, Texas-based Kinder Morgan found the Christy Clark government’s price this week, agreeing to pay the province up to $1 billion over 20 years to waive the five conditions it had placed on approval of the intensely controversial Trans Mountain pipeline.
The province attached 37 new environmental conditions to the project, CBC News reports, on top of the 157 the federal government had already announced along with its own project approval.
“We always said that the five conditions were a path to yes,” Clark said Wednesday. “That’s where we are today.”
West Coast Environmental Law called the announcement “a disappointing, but unsurprising betrayal for generations of British Columbians” in a Wednesday afternoon release.
“Like Prime Minister Trudeau and the federal government, B.C. relied heavily on the flawed National Energy Board’s conclusions in making its decision, despite B.C.’s own position that the NEB’s process was inadequate to evaluate spill risk,” the release states. “B.C.’s 37 conditions, like the NEB’s conditions, are planning and reporting conditions that do virtually nothing to mitigate the risks associated with the project.”
“The provincial government is doubling down on the fossil fuel industry at the very time the province would most benefit from a real climate plan that shifts us to renewable energy,” agreed Jay Richlin, the David Suzuki Foundation’s director general for western Canada. “It’s not a sound decision, and it’s not supported by science.”
B.C. is gambling with the health of grizzly and caribou populations that are already under stress, Richlin said, and “adding more conditions to the 157 already present won’t ensure wildlife will survive.”
“We believe environmental protection and economic development can occur together,” Environment Minister Mary Polak and Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman said in a joint statement. “The conditions attached to the EA certificate reflect that.”
Clark tried to claim credit for limited new coastal protections the federal government put in place before approving the pipeline expansion, which will bring a seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic through Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby, B.C. terminal. “Our job was to fight for the best interest of British Columbians,” the premier said. “Had the five conditions not been there, [it] might mean that this project might not have been approved without additional coastal protections.”
The $25 to $50 million per year from Kinder Morgan will be directed to an environmental protection fund, the province announced.
“Much of that fund will be devoted to work that community groups are taking on,” Clark said. “Community groups will apply for the money, and if it fits the criteria, that money will be dispersed to them.”