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Pipeline: rewards minimal, risk too great, council hears

Township council has been told the benefits of a second oil pipeline through Langley have been overstated and they are outweighed by the potential losses that would result from an oil spill.

The opinion was delivered at the Monday Dec. 16 meeting of council by Liz McDowell, executive director of Conversations for Responsible Economic Development (CRED), a self-described group of “professionals and business leaders from the tourism, real estate, tech, health, creative and other service-based sectors” who say they want to protect the regional economy from threats to long-term development.

McDowell said the pipeline will create about 50 B.C. jobs, most of them low-skilled.

CRED estimates the project will contribute an average of $26.5 million in taxes each year to  provincial and local governments, which isn’t much, McDowell said.

“It’s enough to support one school the size of Langley Fine Arts,” said McDowell, a graduate of the Fort Langley high school, who grew up in Walnut Grove.

While the odds of a pipeline spill are low, the potential consequences would be “catastrophic,” McDowell said.

Based on the fallout from oil spills in the U.S. the cost to B.C. would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, CRED projects.

Property values would drop, employment would rise and the province’s image as a pristine, green tourist destination would suffer.

“It’s trading away the ‘Beautiful B.C.’ brand,” McDowell said.

Alberta and overseas companies will reap most of the profits, she said.

McDowell was invited to speak to council after she appeared at a November forum organized by local resident Byron Smith, who doesn’t want the pipeline running through his family’s 31-acre farm near Fort Langley.

Council is considering whether it should seek intervenor status at National Energy Board hearings on Kinder Morgan’s twinning of the TransMountain pipeline.

Mayor Jack Froese said representatives of Kinder Morgan have been invited to make a presentation to council about the pipeline and so has the National Energy Board (NEB), the agency that will decide if the project proceeds.

On Monday, Kinder Morgan formally filed an application with the NEB.

The company says the next step will be for the NEB “to establish a hearing schedule that corresponds to the federal government’s legislated 15-month review and decision timeframe.”

The company hopes to have the new line open by 2017.

The proposed $5.4 billion project will increase the current 300,000-barrel-per-day capacity to 890,000.

 

It is also expected to quintuple tanker traffic at the TransMountain Burnaby facility to nearly 300 ships a year.

 

 

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