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Dix won't make decision on Kinder Morgan pipeline before 2013
B.C. New Democrat leader Adrian Dix remains “dead set against” Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, but where he stands on a planned pipeline expansion closer to home is still anyone’s guess.
Speaking to The Outlook at a small rally for the New Democrats in Lynn Valley on Aug. 3, the NDP leader was extremely cautious not to tip his hand on Kinder Morgan’s $4-billion plan to twin its Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, more than doubling the flow of oil sands bitumen between Alberta and foreign-bound tanker ships plying the south B.C. coast.
“We have serious questions and concerns about it and some of those questions and concerns you see in what we’ve put out on the Enbridge pipeline,” Dix said, emphasizing that until Kinder Morgan applies for regulatory approval to twin its Trans Mountain pipe, his party would forgo coming down on one side of the debate.
Kinder Morgan’s final application on the project isn’t expected until late next year, after the May 14 provincial election in which Dix hopes to knock off BC Liberal premier Christy Clark — and according to the polls, is well-positioned to do so.
But in a perhaps telling admission, Dix said he does not foresee an easy road to approval for the Kinder Morgan project.
“The significant difference is, in the Enbridge case we’re two years after an application, and as I understand it, Kinder Morgan has already changed their proposal once, and we’ll see what they apply with. My view is they’re going to have a very difficult time.”
But pressed further about whether the potential even exists for a twinned pipeline plan that his party could sign off on, Dix wouldn’t budge from the fence.
“We should talk in the realm of the real — that’s what I try and do,” Dix said. “But I appreciate the hypothetical.
“Generally speaking,” he continued, “before one says no to something, there should be something to say no to.”
Asked whether he thought it premature then for politicians at all levels in Burnaby, Vancouver and in First Nations like North Vancouver’s Tsleil-Waututh — across the inlet from the outflow end of the Trans Mountain pipeline — to have already come out so strongly against any expansion proposal, Dix replied no.
“I didnt say that,” he answered. “They haven’t put an application in is what I said.”
Kinder Morgan has been clear about its plans to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline to Vancouver’s harbour, boosting the flow of oil from 300,000 barrels per day to 750,000 barrels per day and potentially increasing tanker traffic on Burrard Inlet fourfold.
In June, Kinder Morgan applied to the National Energy Board for approval of a fee structure for companies wanting to ship oil from the expanded Trans Mountain pipe.
Still, the New Democrats do not and will not endorse a blanket pipeline policy, Dix suggested, preferring to deal instead with applications only as they are finalized on a case-by-case basis.
"A lot of what we have to say to Enbridge will probably apply to them [Kinder Morgan]," Dix told The Outlook. "But we'll see."