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Council of Canadians joins with allies in vow that the Trans Mountain pipeline will never be built

The Council of Canadians Vancouver-Burnaby chapter at the #BreakFree shut down of the Kinder Morgan Westridge terminal in Burnaby, May 14.

The National Energy Board has recommended the federal government approve the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

Texas-based Kinder Morgan is proposing to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline from northern Alberta to the British Columbia coast to increase the pipeline’s capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day. The pipeline would carry diluted bitumen from the tar sands through Jasper National Park, into the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, across the Vedder Fan aquifer and the municipality of Chilliwack’s protected groundwater zone, then across the Fraser River and to the Westridge Marine Terminal at Burrard Inlet for export on supertankers.

CTV reports, “Expanding the pipeline is ‘in Canada’s public interest’ according to the regulator, citing a boost in jobs and government revenues, though it warned increases in tanker traffic could lead to ‘significant effects’ to the environment, including the recovery of the southern resident killer whale. But the process didn’t look at the impact that the twinned pipeline would have on rising greenhouse gases from increased oil production that could lead to climate change — one of the major concerns of those who oppose the pipeline.”

The article notes, “The NEB found the pipeline project would generate just over a million tons of greenhouse gases… Some of its conditions included monitoring and quantifying greenhouse gases emitted by the project. For the first time, Kinder Morgan has to buy carbon offsets during construction, it said. The board also was concerned about the increased emissions from tankers, which it doesn’t regulate. But it described the probability of a spill to be ‘low’. The NEB doesn’t regulate shipping and Kinder Morgan doesn’t own the marine transport vessels.”

The Vancouver Courier adds, “The City of Vancouver, the City of Burnaby and the provincial government have opposed the project. The trio of governments has argued that Kinder Morgan did not provide enough information to the board about emergency preparedness and response, in the event of an oil spill. The report noted the board didn’t share the view of the municipalities or provincial government, with [Dr. Robert Steedman, the board’s chief environment officer] telling reporters the board found the likelihood of a major oil spill was ‘a very low probability’.”

The NEB decision does not mean the pipeline has been approved.

As CBC has reported, a three-member panel has been set up “to consider the views of communities along the route; to ‘meaningfully consult’ indigenous peoples and, where appropriate, to accommodate their rights and interests; and to assess not just the direct emissions from the pipeline, but the so-called upstream pollution from the oil fields.” The panel is expected to begin its work in June and make its report to the Cabinet in November. The Cabinet will then announce its decision on the pipeline in December. The Tsleil-Waututh Nation opposes the pipeline and has rejected this additional four month review as insufficient.

The Council of Canadians has been opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline for the past five years. We support the Leap Manifesto, including its call for respecting the inherent rights and title of the original caretakers of this land, a 100 per cent clean energy economy by 2050, and for no new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future.

Today Vancouver-based Council of Canadians organizer Harjap Grewal highlighted, “The National Energy Board decision doesn’t change the fact that there is no social licence to proceed with the Trans Mountain pipeline. Thousands of people from across B.C. have protested, been arrested, and spoken out against the project. Twenty municipalities including Vancouver and Burnaby, representing over 2 million people, voted against the increased tanker traffic that the pipeline would bring. Seventeen First Nations in B.C. and Alberta are opposed to the pipeline including the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh.”

We stand with our many allies who have said that the recommendation made by the National Energy Board today doesn’t change the simple fact that the Trans Mountain pipeline will never be built.