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Chamber drills into pipeline issue

Pipe Up Network members Sheila Muxlow (above, during a pipeline walk on Aug. 1) and Michael Hale will talk about the risks the group sees in expanding the 60-year-old pipeline at a chamber luncheon Aug. 16.  - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE
Pipe Up Network members Sheila Muxlow (above, during a pipeline walk on Aug. 1) and Michael Hale will talk about the risks the group sees in expanding the 60-year-old pipeline at a chamber luncheon Aug. 16.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE

Chilliwack business leaders are going to hear both sides of the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion at Chamber of Commerce luncheons in the next two weeks.

Pipe Up Network members Michael Hale and Sheila Muxlow will talk about the risks the group sees in expanding the 60-year-old pipeline at a chamber luncheon Aug. 16.

Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson will talk about the benefits of the pipeline to the community at a luncheon the following week on Aug. 23.

Both luncheons at the Best Western Rainbow Country Inn are open to the public, at a cost of $35, and pre-registration is required.

Patti MacAhonic, chamber executive director, said it’s part of the chamber’s mandate to keep its members informed about issues that impact the community, and the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline “will have impacts to business and the community as a whole.”

“I’m a firm believer that the better information we have, the better decisions are made for all of us,” she said.

“We’re not really in a decision-making position, any of us,” she added, “but we need to know from the horse’s mouth what exactly this pipeline means, either way.”

Kinder Morgan is committed to public consultations with communities along the pipeline’s route from the oil sands of Alberta to waiting oil tankers in Vancouver and Burnaby.

But consultations with First Nations is also required, and aboriginal people to date have not looked kindly on pipelines.

Sto:lo tribal organizations have not taken a formal position regarding the Kinder Morgan pipeline, but Skwah elder Eddie Gardner said his personal view is aboriginal people will not approve the project because of their “spiritual connection to the land.”

He noted that existing pipeline right-of-ways through First Nation lands were granted “at a time when First Nations were run by Indian Affairs agents” and Sto:lo people are now in control of decision-making.

“I think First Nations could put a halt to the pipeline, but what would be really needed is for people in general to stand up against it,” he said.

Pipeline proponents insist that pipelines are the safest way to move large volumes of oil, but the record of spills at Enbridge, the company proposing a pipeline in northern B.C., has shaken support by the B.C. Liberal government, which is now calling for ironclad cleanup guarantees before it approves the project.

Enbridge’s loss could be Kinder Morgan’s gain, however, as both companies compete to pump oil across B.C. to reach higher-paying Asian export markets.

Kinder Morgan expects to file its applications for approval in late 2013, and, if approved by the National Energy Board, start construction in 2016.

Enbridge has already filed for NEB approval, and hopes to start construction in mid-2014.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

twitter.com/paperboy2

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