Kinder Morgan backtracks from oil spill benefit claim

Kinder Morgan is on the defensive over a proposal to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline through British Columbia, after the company was ridiculed for saying an oil spill can have positive economic effects.
Kinder Morgan is taking heat for comments in a report to the NEB that suggest the company thinks oil spills can have unintended economic benefits from clean-up activities.

Kinder Morgan is on the defensive over a proposal to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline through British Columbia, after the company was ridiculed for saying an oil spill can have positive economic effects.

In its 15,000-page application to the National Energy Board, the company said spill response and clean-up creates business and employment opportunities for affected regions.

The story made headlines and the company was roasted by MSNBC talk show host Rachel Maddow over the weekend.

Spill response and clean-up creates business and employment opportunities- Kinder Morgan submission to NEB

"Pipeline spills can have both positive and negative effects on local and regional economies, both in the short- and long-term," the company said in its submission to the National Energy Board.

"Spill response and clean-up creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions, and cleanup service providers."

Instant backlash

But the reference is taken out of context from a section of the application that looks specifically at the socio-economic effects of a worst-case scenario spill, Kinder Morgan Canada said Monday.

Kinder Morgan is required to analyze both positive and negative effects of a spill in its project application, the company said.

"Let me be clear: No spill is acceptable to me anywhere, any time, for any reason. Spills are not good for anyone. Period," president Ian Anderson said in a statement.

"Regrettably, some have taken a reference from our 15,000-page application to the National Energy Board out of context to suggest otherwise."

The total effect of a spill is negative, Anderson said, and in no way is money spent on spill response a justification for the pipeline.

"Spills are not part of our economic benefits analysis, nor do we in any way say that money spent on spill response would be justification for our project," he said.

The $5.4-billion expansion would almost triple the capacity of the pipeline that links the Alberta oil sands to Port Metro Vancouver.

Critics of the project quickly seized on the cost-benefits analysis.

Sierra Club B.C.'s Caitlyn Vernon called the claim an "outrageous insult to British Columbians."

"With this statement, Kinder Morgan has acknowledged that oil spills happen," Vernon said last week.

"No twisted logic will make the risk of oil spills more acceptable to B.C. families that would have to live with the consequences to our jobs, health, culture, recreational opportunities and communities."

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