While we're pleased that federal and provincial regulators finally took action and laid charges against Plains Midstream, the size and nature of the settlements is somewhat disconcerting. It raises a number of questions and once again sheds light on the major weaknesses in Canada's environmental law and enforcement framework.
We are mystified that with so much at stake, with the risks of this project being so high, the board would quibble over nine days. We would have expected the board to err on the side of good process and give Kinder Morgan the extra time to answer the questions that have been asked by municipalities, landowners, local businesses, First Nations and environmental organizations.
The review process for Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project has stripped away valuable opportunities for public input to ensure that the entire review process takes no more than 15 months. Unlike the review process for the proposed Northern Gateway, there will be no cross-examination of evidence or oral hearings in affected communities.
In effect, our right to participate in environmental reviews was restricted by a new requirement placed on each and every one of us -- we are now being forced to prove that we are directly affected by Kinder Morgan's pipeline proposal, or demonstrate that we have specific information of use to the NEB.
The Wall Street analyst who labelled Kinder Morgan a "House of Cards" might have had the TV show in mind, but I'm guessing he's also referencing the corporate history involved. You see, Kinder Morgan emerged out of none other than Enron, the infamous energy giant that was tagged as a House of Cards in a book exposing its systemic shenanigans, which among other things tricked its own employees out of their pension funds. Kinder Morgan CEO Richard Kinder is in fact a former Enron executive and almost became its CEO. The Wall Street Journal once called him "the luckiest ex Enron employee" because Jeffrey Skilling, who became the CEO instead of Kinder, is now in the midst of a 24-year prison sentence.