By Roy L Hales
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley applauded the Prime Minister’s “extraordinary leadership.” Peter McCartney of the Wilderness Committee calls it “a betrayal of promises made in the last election to act on science, gain public approval and respect Indigenous rights.” There are already 7 legal challenges of this project underway, and more will follow. The government of Canada approved Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion, “subject to 157 binding conditions.”
Trudeau Approved Kinder Morgan’s Pipeline Expansion
The Trans Mountain pipeline has carried oil, from Alberta to Westridge Marine Terminal in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, since 1953. Though the owners like to say their operations are safe, there has been 81 spills during this time. Four of the biggest occurred since Kinder Morgan purchased the pipeline.
Now they want to expand the 1,150-kilometre-long pipeline’s capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of diluted bitumen a day. Burnaby’s Westridge Marine Terminal would also need to be enlarged, so it can receive up to 35 oil tankers a month.
In their draft review for this project, published last May, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) projected that, “the upstream GHG emissions in Canada resulting from the production, processing, and refining of products associated with the entire transportation capacity of the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline could range from 20.3 to 25.7 Mt of CO2 eq per year.”[1. Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC – Trans Mountain Expansion Project, Review of Related Upstream Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimates, p 12]
This represents a significant increase in Canada’s GHG emissions
“Our duty is to permit infrastructure so Canada’s resources get to market in a more environmentally-responsible way, creating jobs and a thriving economy,” said Jim Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added, “We are under no illusions that the decision we made today will be bitterly disputed by a number of people across the country who would rather we had made another decision. We took this decision today because we believe it is in the best interests of Canada and Canadians.”
Much Opposition In British Columbia
There is much opposition to this project in British Columbia.
A recent poll found that 31% of the people who voted Liberal in the last election would less likely to do so again if Trudeau approved it.
The pipeline passes through British Columbia’s second and third largest cities (Surrey & Burnaby), as well as Coquitlam, Abbotsford and Langley. Diluted bitumen is then loaded on the tankers, which sail past the province’s largest city (Vancouver) and capital city (Victoria) en route to foreign ports. All of these communities are opposed to the project.
” … Vancouver’s economy is the strongest and greenest in Canada and our marine-based industries play a big role in our success. Vancouver’s economy created 94,000 new jobs last year and significant tax revenue for Canada – it doesn’t make sense to jeopardize that success with the risk that comes with an expanded Kinder Morgan heavy oil pipeline and more tankers,” said Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson.
“Liberal caucus members across the country should be asking how they reconcile this approval with the promises they made to get elected. If our MPs are serious about standing up for their constituents and our values, they should consider resigning over this,” said Dogwood communications director Kai Nagata.
Enormous Risks From Tanker Traffic
“Contrary to the Prime Minister’s claim that this decision is based on evidence, as an intervenor in the Kinder Morgan NEB (National Energy Board) process, I can confirm conclusively that there was no sufficient evidence before the NEB to justify this project. In fact, the NEB refused to hear evidence from UNIFOR that this project would cost Canadian jobs. The NEB ruled the economic impact and jobs impact was outside their mandate. British Columbians, and in particular First Nations – the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, Squamish and Saanich Nations – face enormous risks from a sevenfold increase of tanker traffic through the hazardous passageways of Vancouver harbour and into the Salish Sea,” said Green party Elizabeth May, in a press release.
“There is a terrible history of the mistreatment of First Nations people in Canada. It saddens me because we hoped things might be different with Trudeau but today’s decision is a big step backwards.” added Charlene Aleck, spokesperson for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative.
“We will never allow this pipeline to put our way of life at risk. An oil spill in the Salish Sea would be a catastrophe that poisons the region for decades. And with the Arctic a full 20 degrees warmer than it should be in the polar night, there is simply no room left on this planet for new pipelines,” said Peter McCartney of the Wilderness Committee.
Top Photo Credit: Tankers in Burrard Inlet, Vancouver by Chris Clogg via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)