Burnaby MP, mayor granted intervenor status in Chevron application

Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart -
Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart
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When the National Energy Board hearings are held Jan. 15 into whether to grant Chevron Canada priority access to Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline, Kennedy Stewart and Derek Corrigan would be excused for feeling somewhat outnumbered.

Stewart, the New Democrat MP for Burnaby-Douglas, and Corrigan, the mayor of Burnaby, are the only politicians granted intervenor status in the hearings. They'll be joined by about a dozen representatives from the oil industry, officials from the B.C. and Alberta energy ministries, and representatives from the union representing Chevron employees and Kinder Morgan itself.

There is more demand for the pipeline's capacity than it can accommodate, resulting in almost all users receiving less product through it than they request. Chevron has applied for a priority destination designation to ensure it receives an adequate supply of crude oil to keep its North Burnaby refinery operating.

Stewart said in an interview that, unlike just about all the others granted intervenor status, his MP's office budget won't allow for him to hire lawyers, so he'll be speaking on his own, with the help of his constituency assistant.

He knows of other MPs whose applications for intervenor status were turned down, so he was "pleasantly surprised that our efforts have paid off to this extent and now we're just trying to sift through all the legal documents that we've received."

For Stewart, his goal is clear: "I'm going to try and save the refinery."

He also wants to ask Chevron, if it were to receive priority access, whether it would put any cost savings towards upgrades to the refinery.

"Not everybody in Burnaby is happy with having a refinery in our backyard, mainly because of the smells and the leaks. So I would really like to push them to up the environmental standards of the refinery, and this is where I'll get to ask them about that."

He said he is "really worried" about the refinery's future and how Metro Vancouver will be supplied with its fuel needs, particularly if Kinder Morgan's expansion proposal results in the focus of the Trans Mountain pipeline being shifted to serve export markets.

"We're in a pretty precarious position here with just the one lone refinery."

And while some in Burnaby are opposed to the refinery in general, "I think in this case I have to try and weigh the pros and cons. It's better, I think, to try and save it and make it better than to let it close."

Mayor Derek Corrigan said that with the pipeline increasingly serving export markets, "In my view it's defeating the purpose of that line, which was to provide British Columbia with access to oil."

If Chevron has to transport crude to the refinery by truck or train, it will mean a much higher carbon footprint for its operation, he added.

To Corrigan, the decision to allow Chevron to have priority access is an obvious one.

"There are provisions within the National Energy Board to give priority destination  status in regards to the pipeline to locations within Canada, and if there is any reason for that to exist, this is it," he said. "Because we have one refinery providing half the gasoline and diesel to British Columbia, if we close that down, it means we're importing all of our products from somewhere else.

"So we're exporting the commodity and importing finished product, which to me is absolutely ridiculous."

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