October 17, 2013 10:09 pm

Kinder Morgan: Pipeline highlights rural/urban divide as it travels across B.C.


When the bitumen leaves the oil sands, it ends up in Edmonton.

You’ll find a maze of pipes at Kinder Morgan’s facility.

But one of the pipes is the most important. It’s where your gas comes from. The pipe is “mile zero” of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Kinder Morgan wants to twin the line to increase capacity.

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What most people don’ t realize is that 30 per cent of the line near Banff and Jasper national parks is already twinned. From Alberta, the pipeline heads to Kamloops, a strategic and operational hub.

Kamloops is the station that starts the pumping up over the Coast Mountain range. 20 people are employed at the Kamloops base.

Surprisingly, more oil use to flow through these lines decades ago than today.

In the past half century, there have been 78 spills on the Kinder Morgan line.

“70 per cent of those spills have happened in the pump stations and the terminals, where we have containment systems,” says Toth.

In many ways, the line highlights British Columbia’s rural and urban divide.

If Kinder Morgan’s proposal  is approved, over a billion dollars will be spent in towns outside of Vancouver.

It’s money that’s welcome in most cases.

Adrian Dix learned that the hard way in Kamloops during the last provincial election, when he surprised voters and fellow party members by opposing Kinder Morgan’s proposal.

Prior to the election, Dix said he wouldn’t announce his position on Kinder Morgan until the final proposal is presented sometime later this year.

“It was an interesting day,” says Ian Anderson, CEO of Kinder Morgan.

The phone of Kinder Morgan CEO Ian Anderson started ringing immediately after the Kamloops announcement.

He was informed privately that Dix wasn’t opposed to Kinder Morgan’s proposal.

“He was trying to get us to understand, he wasn’t opposed to the pipeline, but to an increase in tanker traffic because he didn’t think that was consistent the views of British Columbians about Vancouver’s future.”

“I said ‘You really don’t think we can connect those two’ and that the public and media won’t connect those two immediately?”

Ben West thinks Dix did a poor job of explaining his opposition to the pipeline expansion.

“I think Adrian Dix did a lousy job of explaining why he opposes the Kinder Morgan pipeline,” says Ben West of Forest Ethics.

When the pipeline enters the Lower Mainland, the politics and geography change. Kinder Morgan constantly monitors the line from the air looking for any potential problems.

The proposed expansion mostly follows the existing right of way, but does divert around established neighbourhoods like Walnut Grove in Langley. By doing so, it does place the pipeline closer to the Fraser River.

The city has grown around the 60-year-old line. Buildings are designed around the 18 meter right of way. Construction near the pipeline is monitored on the ground and from the air.

Ultimately, Kinder Morgan’s proposal  is forcing British Columbians to find a balance between economic, environmental, and social concerns.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says he’s not concerned about any potential political blowback.

“I think there’s a tremendous amount of blowback if any of these projects are approved,” says Robertson. “I think the majority of people on the B.C. coast are strongly against pipelines and supertankers proliferating on the B.C. coast, and putting the economy that is successful right now here, at risk, permanently.”

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