Category Archives: Strategy

Opinion: Oil company launches advertising campaign in Lower Mainland

Kinder Morgan has recently started a major advertising campaign including sending out print pamphlets and increasing its television advertising in the Lower Mainland, in the run up to municipal elections. It is possible that such advertisements running alongside these elections are purely coincidental; but with many municipal parties promoting sustainable development, while standing up for their citizens exposed to the threats of greater diluted bitumen transportation through their communities, it may be possible that Kinder Morgan's campaign is challenging those political parties.

In its campaign, Kinder Morgan states that “everyone around here is a neighbour or a friend.” If the employees of Kinder Morgan are our neighbours and friends then they should be listening to the concerns of their fellow residents. These fellow residents are raising concerns about Kinder Morgan proposing to run large volumes of diluted bitumen through their city streets and backyards or conservation areas and parks. (These dangers would also place Kinder Morgan’s employees in harm’s way.) This diluted bitumen flow is equal to a three quarter loaded Exxon Valdez ship being transported-on a daily basis-through our communities. Many people in the community want safe streets, conservation areas, parks, and beaches for themselves, their children, and grandchildren to enjoy. Employees of Kinder Morgan are not the issue. It is the unwillingness of the company to engage with residents in urban, rural, and coastal communities which continues to be an ongoing issue. The company assumes that their proposal is desired and embraced by downstream communities. In many cases, it is not.

“Our rapid response plans enable us to shutdown and isolate any damaged section along the pipeline” is another claim made by the company. Unfortunately, this is not completely true. At a minimum, it would take Kinder Morgan 10 minutes to shut down their pipeline if it was damaged. In a highly pressurized pipeline, this would pour massive levels of toxic diluted bitumen in to streets, homes, parks, and beaches. In the case of the 2007 pipeline rupture in Burnaby, the actions of Kinder Morgan actually increased the amount of oil that flooded through city streets, homes, backyards and in to the Burrard Inlet. The company had closed valves at its Westridge marine terminal causing oil to back up and gush even more out of control.1

The company also likes to state that TransMountain has been operating safely in your community since 1953. Again, the company fails to mention that TransMountain pipeline is operated by Kinder Morgan, a company which has only done so since 2005.

Finally, the company reasons that “the Canadian Coast Guard monitors every vessel’s passage.” As we have recently seen with the near grounding of a Russian ship off the coast of Haida Gwaii, our national response is clearly not “world-leading.” Safety is not the word that comes to mind when describing this project in its present form.

The solution is creating authentic dialogue from both the company and downstream communities and which tries to come up with ideas that promote sustainable development, safety, and the environment.

1. Source: Transportation Safety Board of Canada, Pipeline Investigation Report P07H0040, p 7. and p. 13.