At the federal, provincial and municipal level here in Vancouver, Greens are leading the charge against Kinder Morgan's plans to twin the Transmountain pipeline bringing diluted bitumen from Alberta to its refinery and port in Burnaby, bringing about a 7-fold increase in tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet right past Vancouver and down the South Coast.
Here in Vancouver, Green Party City Councillor Adriane Carr tabled a motion in Council on May 13th calling for Vancouver to hold a plebscite on Kinder Morgan's expansion plans at the time of the next civic election on November 15, 2014. This is in response to the flawed National Energy Board hearings that saw thousands denied the right to share their views with the Review Panel, and which - unlike the Northern Gateway hearings - disallows oral cross-examination of the company and experts.
Councillor Carr is the only Vancouver City Councillor to have sought and been granted official standing in the Kinder Morgan hearings, as a Commentator. However, even the role of "commentator" has been greatly diminished for the Kinder Morgan hearings relative to the Northern Gateway hearings, confining commentators to one written submission consisting of only one page.
Disappointingly, at the May 14th Council meeting Vision Councillor Andrea Reimer and her Vision colleagues voted to strike Carr's motion and replace it with a weaker one instead calling on the City to write to the Federal Government and request a fairer process for the NEB hearings. Reimer and other councillors cited fears that "big oil money" would buy the outcome of such a plebscite and secure a win for Kinder Morgan. Clearly, Vision Vancouver does not have faith that Vancouver's citizens would be as principled as those of Kitimat, which earlier this year voted more than 58% against the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal despite standing to reap more economic benefits from the pipeline than any other BC community, and in defiance of the millions of dollars reportedly spent by Enbridge in a failed attempt to steer the plebiscite's outcome in favour of the pipeline.
Notwithstanding the unfortunate setback in Vancouver, Greens are undaunted in their efforts to prevent Kinder Morgan from turning BC and Metro Vancouver into a staging ground Alberta tar sands exports overseas. Green MLA Andrew Weaver, Green Party of BC interim leader Adam Olsen and Green Party of Canada leader and Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May have all been admitted as intervenors in the Kinder Morgan hearings.
Last week, MLA Andrew Weaver's office submitted close to 500 questions to Kinder Morgan about its pipeline and tanker proposal - that's about 430 more than was submitted by the entire BC Government!
“I am very concerned about the evidence used to justify Kinder Morgan’s assertion that it can deal with a heavy oil spill. As we saw with the Northern Gateway hearings there simply has not been adequate research on how heavy oil behaves in a marine environment, or if it is even possible to clean it up” said Andrew Weaver “We have submitted detailed questions to the company and I trust they will respond with comprehensive answers”
Meanwhile, at the Federal level, Green Party of Canada leader and MP Elizabeth May is fighting for fair hearings on Kinder Morgan. Her recent motion to the National Energy Board calling for oral cross-examinations and “an opportunity be provided for all interveners, Trans Mountain, and the Board to orally question, under oath, all witnesses on the evidence they file” was rejected by the NEB on May 7th.
British Columbians can expect to see their Green representatives continue to work hard in opposition to Kinder Morgan all the way into the the 2015 hearings.