(Black Press files)

Province takes aim at Trans Mountain pipeline with proposed bitumen restrictions

Government looks to increase restrictions on diluted bitumen transportation by pipeline or rail

The B.C. government is proposing new restrictions on transporting crude oil – a decision that could heavily impact Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The proposal, released Tuesday, is part of the province’s second phase of its oil spill response plan.

Phase two will consider increasing restrictions on diluted bitumen transportation by pipeline or rail, the province said, at least until the “behaviour” of spilled bitumen can be better understood and a response plan can be made.

Bitumen is the main crude product flowing through Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to B.C., at the capacity of about 300,000 barrels a day. The $7.4-billion expansion is expected to nearly triple the pipeline’s daily capacity.

Black Press Media requested comment from Kinder Morgan but has not heard back.

The second phase of the review will also include the creation of an independent scientific advisory panel to further look into how authorities would safely transport and clean up heavy oil in the case of a spill.

The first phase of regulations, established in October, focused on the accountability of pipeline, rail and trucking companies, while the findings from the second phase would also probe response times, compensation for groups affected by a spill, and maximizing regulations for marine spills.

READ MORE: Pipeline construction in Abbotsford not expected to begin until late 2018

READ MORE: New rules in effect to transport liquid petroleum in B.C.

The proposal, which follows a string of moves by the NDP government to halt the pipeline, prompted Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to take to social media and call it “unconstitutional.”

“The action announced today by the B.C. government can only be seen for what it is: political game-playing,” Notley said in a series of tweets. “But it’s a game that could have serious consequences for the jobs and livelihoods of millions of Canadians who count on their governments to behave rationally and within their scope of authority.”

B.C.’s Environment Minister George Heyman called Notley’s tactics “scare-mongering.”

“We believe we have a right — and all provinces have a right — to put in laws in their jurisdictions to protect their values,” Heyman said.

This latest review is based on a 2015 report by the Royal Society of Canada that found heavy forms of bitumen are less likely to break down in water than lighter types of oil, but that more research is needed.

“The potential for a diluted bitumen spill already poses significant risk to our inland and coastal environment and the thousands of existing tourism and marine harvesting jobs,” Heyman said.

In 2013, then-environment minister Mary Polak led a study on response capabilities in B.C., which included one scenario of a summer-time spill of diluted bitumen in the Juan de Fuca Strait.

The report found that 31 per cent of the spilled oil could be recovered within five days, with the efforts of Canadian and U.S. ships and equipment.

“We’re saying that if the Royal Society of Canada says we don’t have enough knowledge, we should get enough to ensure British Columbians that if there is a spill, we can clean it up,” Heyman said.

The panel will combine research with feedback from First Nations groups and the public before providing a report to the ministry in the coming months. More details on the proposal are expected to be released in February.

Between city bylaws and federal court battles, Kinder Morgan has had plenty of setbacks from its original timeline. In its most recent update in November, the company expected to begin construction in the Lower Mainland by the end of 2018. The project was initialy propsed in 2012.

The National Energey Board is currently hosting hearings, gathering feedback from the public and other stakeholders. Meanwhile, the NDP government is seeking to withdraw its consent for the project.

“It’s up to Kinder Morgan what they do in the interim,” Heyman said, “but we are telling them what’s necessary to protect B.C.’s interests.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Freshet of 2018 evokes memories of the flood of 1948

And while the devastation of 70 years ago informs flood protection now, similar event not predicted

Chilliwack Chiefs prove doubters wrong with RBC Cup triumph

The Chiefs played with a chip on their shoulders, claiming their 1st-ever national junior A title.

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title.

Rising river prompts road closure in Chilliwack

Fraser expected to continue rise on Monday

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

PHOTOS: Floodwaters rise and fall in Grand Forks

The flood-ravaged Kootenay-Boundary region begins to heal

Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are done

Wayne Coulson said his company still hopes to find a new home for the vintage aircraft

NHL playoffs weekly roundup

Vegas Golden Knights have done the impossible and have a chance at hoisting the Stanley Cup

Changes needed for ‘Alert Ready’ mass emergency system

‘You need to strike this careful balance between alerting people to lots of problems — and doing it too often’

Las Vegas Golden Knights move on to Stanley Cup final

Improbable run continues for NHL’s newest expansion team

Oregon’s flooded recreational pot market a cautionary tale to Canada

‘In a broader sense, we are adding legal production to an already robust illegal production’

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title

‘Concussion is at the forefront of our thinking’: Rodeo doctor

As in any other contact sport, concussion prevention and treatment efforts continue to evolve

Most Read