The National Energy Board announced on Thursday that Kinder Morgan can begin construction of its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion at the Burnaby Mountain tunnel entrance. The construction work is subject to other federal, provincial and municipal permits.

The NEB's decision allows the Texas-based energy company to begin clearing and grading work at the entrance to the Burnaby Mountain tunnel on its Westridge Marine Terminal property to avoid potential impacts on migratory birds that might use the area later in the spring.

The National Energy Board has allowed Kinder Morgan to start construction on the Burnaby Mountain tunnel entrance for its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The decision comes as a setback to the City of Burnaby, which has opposed the pipeline expansion project for years and argued against it at the NEB hearings in January to examine its route. The project, if built, will expand the existing Trans Mountain pipeline to move up to 890,000 barrels of petroleum products including diluted bitumen a day from Alberta to Burnaby. The Burnaby Mountain area has been a particularly contested part of the pipeline expansion route, due to being an ecologically sensitive area, as well as its proximity to Simon Fraser University campus. In 2014, Burnaby Mountain was the site of large protests over the pipeline expansion, during which over 100 people were arrested.

The federal government approved the Trans Mountain expansion in November 2016, subject to 157 environmental, financial and technical conditions. In an interview on Tuesday with National Observer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Trans Mountain expansion was “part of the equation” as early as 2015 in order to bring Alberta on board with a national climate framework.

Despite federal approval, Kinder Morgan has expressed frustration with opposition from municipalities like Burnaby, which it said had slowed down the pipeline construction schedule by months. Last October, a Kinder Morgan Canada executive said in an affidavit that the company could lose more than $90 million per month due to its struggles with the bylaws of the City of Burnaby in British Columbia.

In a recent escalation of the controversy, the B.C. government announced measures in January that could result in restrictions on diluted bitumen transiting through the province, a move widely seen as an effort to hinder the pipeline expansion.

Screen shot of video footage by Zack Embree of tanker in Burrard Inlet. Critics of the Trans Mountain expansion say the project will lead to a major increase in oil tanker traffic to Burnaby's marine terminal.

'Pleased' with the decision

A media representative for Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain project said the company was "pleased" with the National Energy Board's decision.

"The decision to build the 2.6 km tunnel through Burnaby Mountain connecting Burnaby Terminal to Westridge Marine Terminal was based on feedback from local residents received through our engagement and as part of the regulatory process," the company said in an email. "Tunnel construction will cause no disruption to the surface of Burnaby Mountain and will avoid construction through residential neighbourhoods and city streets. The decision enables us to begin clearing and grading work at the entrance of the Burnaby Mountain tunnel, or portal, at our Westridge Marine Terminal property to avoid potential impacts on migratory birds that could use that area later in the spring, so we’ll be looking at when we can begin that work."

City of Burnaby lawyer Gregory McDade, who presented lengthy arguments against the project at previous NEB hearings, said today's NEB approval may override the City's objections to construction.

"In theory Burnaby’s bylaws and permits continue to apply," McDade told National Observer. "But the NEB has also ruled in December that any bylaw that interferes with the pipeline or delays construction will be ruled by them as unconstitutional."

He added that because the tunnel construction entrances are on the company's property, with the rest being built underground, not many bylaws would be involved.

To date, nearly 56 per cent of the entire detailed route has been approved by the NEB.

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Comments

Once again the National Energy Bored (sic) has caved into the craven demands of a hubris filled, dirty oil monopoly. The National Energy Board is full of oil sycophants and is an obvious conflict of interest. They conveniently forget the oil storage tank fires of 2005...that was a disaster. Now, they are giving Kinder Morgan (Enron Jr.) the go ahead to build tunnels and expand the storage facilities at Burnaby Mountain. There is only one road in and out of Burnaby mountain an Simon Fraser University sits at the top of the hill. Another disaster like the 2005 explosion would spell doom for university students...sort of like an 18 year old with an AR-15, but I digress. Pipelines leak, so it's not a question of if, but when. Who would bet on that? Not I, and not the residents of Burnaby, who are being subjected to the environmental, and social costs of this dirty and well subsidized industry. We need to get to renewable energy quicker, or else we can mournfully declare, "The Coast is Toast"...and the coast belongs to all Canadians...so we all have a stake in it.

Well! Time for BC to permanently disconnect as a sovereign country from the rest of Canada! I think this is our best bet. We may not have a great Winter Olympics (or maybe we will?) but seriously, what is Canada doing for British Columbia? I just want support, and giving the rest of Canada money from oil, while the plastics industry from the oil industry continues to poison our shores, with all the risk to British Columbia including a huge tanker spill, is not my idea of a good deal. Not at all, why should we?

Gas.oil ,vapors.flow down hill .what is my property worth now. another refugee
Sail away on a oil slick in to the sunset

Well! Time for BC to permanently disconnect as a sovereign country from the rest of Canada! I think this is our best bet. We may not have a great Winter Olympics (or maybe we will?) but seriously, what is Canada doing for British Columbia? I just want support, and giving the rest of Canada money from oil, while the plastics industry from the oil industry continues to poison our shores, with all the risk to British Columbia including a huge tanker spill, is not my idea of a good deal. Not at all, why should we? Tell a British Columbian why we should do this? Why?

There are other municipalities that are in the way of Kinder Morgan, like Chilliwack for instance. Might want to look into that ...it's a good story..about transmission lines and pipelines not mixing very well...something about arching...possibility of explosions... Burnaby is not the only place where opposition to Killer Morgan is happening.

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