It’s not just Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip bringing Canadians together from coast to coast this August. Opposition to tar sands pipelines is uniting us as well.
With the 27-month review of Energy East just getting started, another pipeline battle on the west coast is entering its decisive stages.
This summer, the federal government’s Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project Ministerial Panel held panel meetings in Alberta and British Columbia to engage with local communities, First Nations and other stakeholders, and gather additional input about the project. The panel meetings wrapped up this week in Victoria, and were marked by overwhelming opposition to Kinder Morgan’s pipeline through British Columbia (B.C.).
To date, 21 municipalities, 17 First Nations and an incredible number of British Columbians have taken a stand against Trans Mountain due to concerns about pipeline safety, oil spills, tanker accidents, First Nations land rights, and climate change impacts.
Texas-based Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project would twin an existing 60-year-old pipeline transporting tar sands crude from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. The expansion would virtually triple the capacity of the pipeline from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day. It would also increase tanker traffic in the Vancouver Harbour seven-fold, from 60 tankers per year to 408.
Since Kinder Morgan first filed its full application for Trans Mountain to the National Energy Board (NEB), the review process has been mired by dispute and delay, including controversial changes to the pipeline route, local protests, conflict of interest allegations against the NEB, and court challenges against the NEB’s recommendation to approve the project . The controversy surrounding the NEB’s review of Trans Mountain, as well as Northern Gateway and Energy East, prompted the new federal government to undertake additional review measures for Trans Mountain.
Which brings us to this summer’s panel sessions in B.C. As the panel moved westward along the pipeline route from Calgary to Vancouver, opposition to Trans Mountain grew fierce. In Burnaby, residents who attended the panel meetings were 100 per cent opposed to Kinder Morgan. The mayor of Burnaby said the Ministerial Panel was riddled with conflict of interest and called for the NEB to go back to the drawing board.
In Vancouver, environmental groups presented the panel with 144,000 petitions opposed to Energy East, while the city’s mayor called Trans Mountain a “very significant risk to Vancouver’s economy and the region’s economy”. Outside the panel room, Vancouverites staged vibrant demonstrations against Kinder Morgan.
As the panel wrapped up in Victoria this week, the provincial capital’s mayor called the increase in tanker traffic from Trans Mountain an unacceptable risk and pipeline opponents were unable to fit in the overcrowded town hall.
Meanwhile, B.C. First Nations continue to lead opposition to the pipeline, highlighting the NEB’s lack of consultation and threats to their culture and traditional way of life. The President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs told the panel that First Nations have no confidence in the engagement process.
The message to Kinder Morgan and the Ministerial Panel is clear: B.C. rejects the risky Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The project’s fate ultimately rests with the federal Cabinet, which must make a decision on by December 2016. The federal government has said that it wants to approve tar sands pipelines. But it’s facing growing opposition from communities and First Nations concerned about risks to our land, air and water, amidst ongoing work on a national climate plan designed to cut carbon pollution across Canada.
The predicament is summed up well by Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan: “Justin Trudeau said governments give permits but communities give permission. Well, we don’t.”
Right across the country, the more Canadians hear about tar sands pipelines, the more they are opposed. Just like Trans Mountain, the proposed Energy East pipeline faces opposition from First Nations and municipalities, puts coastal ecosystems at risk of increased tanker traffic, and threatens the drinking water supply of Canadians, while the credibility of its NEB review process has already been called into question.
Join Canadians on the west coast and across the country who have taken a stand against Kinder Morgan. Tell the federal government to reject the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline.