Ottawa wants conflict resolution panel for Trans Mountain pipeline project

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OTTAWA — The federal government wants to see a new process established to resolve conflicts over permits that Kinder Morgan says is delaying construction on its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in British Columbia.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr says the government has written to the National Energy Board, endorsing the creation of a panel that would address conflicts over municipal or provincial permits.

Kinder Morgan (TSX:KML) has appealed to the board, arguing Burnaby in Metro Vancouver is wrongly withholding construction permits for Trans Mountain after it has been approved by the federal government.

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British Columbia’s NDP government has also promised to do everything in its power to stop the expansion.

Ottawa approved the $7.4-billion project last year, but Trans Mountain has faced opposition and legal challenges from local communities, environmentalists and First Nations. 

The pipeline goes from an Edmonton area tank farm to a port in Burnaby.

Carr said he supports the establishment of a standing panel to determine Kinder Morgan’s compliance with project conditions placed on Trans Mountain.

“The government has taken an important step to ensure that when a natural resource project is approved, it proceeds in a timely fashion and continues to generate economic benefits for all Canadians,” he said in a statement issued Wednesday.

“The government is supportive of establishing a process that would assist in resolving any conflicts over the issuance of municipal or provincial permits and avoid unnecessary delays to project construction or regulatory compliance.”

Burnaby’s position has been criticized by the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

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The city has said it is applying its regulatory process on the project in good faith.

Kinder Morgan has asked the energy board for an order allowing work to begin without permits from Burnaby, and has also applied for an “expedited determination” to resolve similar problems in future.

The expansion would more than triple the pipeline’s daily capacity to 890,000 barrels and increase the number of oil tankers moving through the Georgia Strait.

Kinder Morgan officials have said delays in the project have the potential to cost millions of dollars and push the expansion nine months behind schedule.

The Canadian Press

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