Coldwater Indian Band challenges Kinder Morgan pipeline to protect their drinking water

The Council of Canadians expresses its solidarity with the Coldwater Indian Band in their opposition to the 890,000 barrel per day Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline given the threat it poses to their land and water.

Their website notes, "As a member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation, we have connections to the entire Nlaka’pamux territory, which spans a large region in the south central interior of British Columbia. This territory stretches from the Fraser Canyon and Princeton in the south to Cache Creek and Kamloops in the north."

Metro News reports, "The First Nation raised its concerns about the proximity of the Trans Mountain route to its aquifer, upon which 90 per cent of the nearly 800 residents depend for drinking water."

On November 28, 2016, federal officials responded, “Coldwater could be significantly impacted from a pipeline spill as the community relies primarily on an aquifer crossed by the project for its drinking water. Coldwater members also rely on cultural foods for subsistence and are at greater risk for adverse effects from an oil spill.”

Despite this admission, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his approval of the pipeline the next day.

The First Nation has now filed a judicial review challenge to the Trudeau government's decision to approve the pipeline.

Metro News adds, "If the pipeline expansion proceeds as planned this autumn, [Coldwater Chief Lee] Spahan hinted that the battle over water could potentially take on similarities to the water standoff at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation." He says, “This is about our drinking water; it is our Standing Rock. It'll be up to my membership how they decide … but we're going to do whatever it takes to protect our drinking water.”

The 1,150-kilometre export pipeline, to be built by Texas-based Kinder Morgan, would cross 1,309 water courses in Alberta and British Columbia, produce between 20 to 26 megatonnes of carbon pollution a year, and result in about 400 supertankers a year departing from the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby.

Of the 120 First Nations along the pipeline route, only 39 have issued letters of support for the project. The company has not secured the consent of two-thirds of potentially impacted Indigenous nations.

The Council of Canadians has been opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline since August 2011 by participating in marches, protests and civil disobedience actions, supporting chapter activism, petitions and a court action, writing blogs, and organizing numerous public events and a six-community speaking tour.

Kinder Morgan wants to begin construction on the pipeline in September.

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