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Kinder Morgan 'not a huge supporter' of Ottawa's attacks on pipeline foes

Remember back in early 2012 when Joe Oliver denounced opponents of West Coast oil pipelines as foreign-funded "radicals"? The federal natural resources minister's comments may have done Canada's oil industry more harm than good.

So argues the president of major pipeline builder Kinder Morgan Canada, who recently told a Calgary business audience that "fanning the flames" of grassroots opposition can make it harder to win support for oil industry expansion.

"I was not a huge supporter of how actively the federal government was a year or two ago in promoting pipeline projects for its interests and taking on some of the opposers," Ian Anderson reportedly said this week.

He added: "I don't need them making the grassroots opposition any worse than it might already be."

You may recall Kinder Morgan from B.C.'s provincial election last spring -- the firm whose plan to nearly triple capacity on its oil pipeline between Alberta and the Lower Mainland was opposed by former NDP leader Adrian Dix.

Inflammatory comments from Oliver and others didn't hurt the Trans Mountain project's business case, Anderson said, but "[they] certainly annoyed a number of groups."

Kinder Morgan isn't the only pipeline firm dealing with fall-out from the enthusiastic support of right-leaning politicians.

In 2011, a Republican-supported bill forcing President Barack Obama to make a decision on TransCanada's Keystone XL unnecessarily delayed the pipeline, the project’s director, Les Cherwenuk, has argued.

That bill meant Obama couldn't approve the pipeline, "since the work [on an environmental assessment] had not been completed and he had no choice but to deny the permit," Cherwenuk said.

Despite years of delays, TransCanada expects a final presidential decision on Keystone XL sometime early next year. Kinder Morgan, meanwhile, will file a regulatory application for its pipeline expansion in December.

Geoff Dembicki reports on energy and climate change for The Tyee.

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