Kinder Morgan president deftly fields pipeline questions

Pipeline opponents at Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce meeting fail to rattle guest speaker Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson.

Ian Anderson

Ian Anderson

Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson answered some hard questions at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday — not from Chilliwack business people but from pipeline opponents.

PIPE UP Network members Mike Hale and Sheila Muxlow, guest speakers at last week’s Chamber luncheon, tried to draw Anderson out on the safety of pumping tar sands through the existing pipeline, and what the company would do if the proposed expansion is not supported by Chilliwack people.

But Anderson refused to bite.

“I can’t answer that,” Anderson said, about the question of popular support.

“I don’t know what would happen,” he said, adding that it’s the National Energy Board the company must satisfy, in order to get the approvals to proceed with the project.

Anderson also defended pumping tar sands — also called diluted bitumen — through the existing 53-year-old pipeline.

“I’m not going to admit (diluted bitumen) is any different than any other product in our pipeline,” he said, despite the urging from Muxlow. Anderson invited her to send him the science that shows it is more corrosive than conventional oil.

He also disagreed with opposition “claims” that tar sands will sink in water, making it harder to clean up, saying “it floated” during the Burnaby pipeline rupture in 2007.

Anderson said he could not answer the charge that exporting Alberta tar sands will drive up the Canadian dollar, hurting the national economy in the process.

“There are many factors that affect the value of the dollar,” he said.

“I don’t know that a strong dollar … is a bad thing,” he added.

“I think it’s something we should be proud of,” he said. “It’s something that gets us working on the productivity aspect of our society” which also impacts the value of the Canadian dollar.

Anderson said no detailed study of the economic impact of the pipeline expansion on Chilliwack has been done, but about 60 percent of the estimated $4.1-billion cost of the project will be spent in B.C.

He said those economic details of the project, its route and environmental impact, will be released at future public meetings “tailored” to each community along the pipeline route.

If approved, after a two-year review by the NEB, construction of the pipeline could start in 2016 with a completion date after the summer of 2017.