British Columbia

Latest pipeline ruling by National Energy Board deepens public distrust, Green MLA says

Sonia Furstenau cites 'doublespeak' in decision to OK pipeline in exchange for Alberta climate plan support

Posted: February 16, 2018

Green Party MLA Sonia Furstenau says the latest approval by the National Energy Board for tunnel work on Trans Mountain pipeline's tunnel entrance at Burnaby Mountain will increase tensions because citizens don't trust the process. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

B.C. Green MLA Sonia Furstenau says the latest go-ahead for Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline construction will only deepen the sense of public distrust over the government's approval process.

The National Energy Board (NEB) issued three decisions Thursday afternoon that allow workers on the Kinder Morgan project to do clearing and grading on the oil and gas giant's Westridge Marine Terminal property in Burnaby.

Furstenau, the MLA for Cowichan Valley, told On the Island's Gregor Craigie that this latest announcement, reminds her of the conflict over a contaminated soil dump that propelled her into provincial politics.


Before winning a seat as MLA for Cowichan Valley in May 2017, Furstenau led the campaign to stop the waste dump near Shawnigan Lake that had been approved by the then-Liberal B.C. government.

"The problem that our community had all along is that we didn't trust the process," Furstenau said, referring to the provincial government approval of the dump site over concerns about risk to the local water supply.

"This is the issue with the entire Kinder Morgan debate hereā€¦it's not a process that the people of B.C. trust."

Furstenau said B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver and fellow Green MLA Adam Olsen were similarly frustrated by the NEB approval process for the TransMountain pipeline expansion project, in which they were intervenors.


As an example, she said a decision on whether effective spill cleanup was possible was based on conditions including 20 hours of sunlight, perfectly calm waters and no wind or waves.

"As Andrew likes to point out, those conditions don't exist on B.C.'s coast, in fact they don't exist south of Tuktoyaktuk," Furstenau said.

 "When you make a decision like this and people can't trust the conditions on which it was made, it leads to what we're seeing, which is this increasing conflict."

'Doublespeak' on climate change

Furstenau also described Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's defence of Kinder Morgan pipeline approval as a tradeoff to obtain Alberta's support for a climate change plan as "doublespeak."

"You increase your carbon emissions in order to meet your carbon reduction target? I don't understand how that is a plan," she said.

"Alberta has known for a long time that it needed to diversify its economy, Furstenau said. "The notion that B.C. should have to accept the fact that Alberta hasn't diversified its economy doesn't speak to me as good planning or good policy."

With files from CBC Radio One's On the Island with Gregor Craigie