Cariboo-North MLA Bob Simpson is calling on the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) to hold public hearings on the sale of Terasen Gas to U.S.-based Kinder Morgan Inc.
Simpson presented approximately 1,500 e-petitions to the BCUC opposing the sale or calling for public hearings.
“With over 6,000 letters to the B.C. Utilities Commission, these 1,500-odd e-petitions, and hundreds of letters to the editor in newspapers across the province, I am very disappointed that a full public hearing process has not been announced. Clearly the general public has opinions, and to properly address this the hearings are necessary,” Simpson said.
Simpson said the gas lines owned by Terasen are a “control point” of B.C.’s natural resources and he has concerns about them being sold to a foreign company.
“Kinder Morgan has already indicated that it is interested in using those lines to transport natural gas to the U.S.,” Simpson said. “If the price is different [in the U.S.] than the ones set by BCUC, then these pipelines could transport gas down south.”
That could cause shortages or increased costs to B.C. consumers, he said.
Although Kinder Morgan would be required to follow B.C. regulations for its operations in the province, the majority of the company’s assets would be outside the province’s jurisdiction, he said. That would give the BCUC and provincial government less political leverage on the company.
“British Columbians needs become a smaller and smaller portion of Kinder Morgan’s operations,” Simpson said. “You get on a slippery slope where the needs of customers are less and less critical.”
Simpson said that the BCUC needs to examine Kinder Morgan’s record on environmental issues.
“Kinder Morgan’s track record in the States needs to be put under public scrutiny as well,” Simpson said. “The record of the company is not spotless by any sense of the imagination.”
Simpson said the BCUC has received more letters and comments on this issue than any other previously.
“People need to have a say,” he said.
Simpson also challenged the provincial government to take responsibility for changing the foreign-ownership clause which allowed the sale to happen.