Trans Mountain Pipeline

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Kinder Morgan silent protest

The Trudeau Liberals approved the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on November 9, 2016. Construction for a tripling of the pipeline’s capacity to 890,000 barrels of oil per day (BPD) is set to start imminently. This project threatens to unleash a massive tar sands spill which would threaten drinking water, salmon, coastal wildlife and communities. It is inconsistent with our commitments to reducing climate pollution under the Paris Agreement.

There are important barriers in the way but we need your help to stop it.

The newly elected NDP government has joined the legal battle against Kinder Morgan and is refusing construction on public land. There are currently nine cases, seven led by First Nations, before the federal court of appeal challenging the Trudeau government’s approval of the pipeline. Over 61 First Nations have spoken out against the project. BC opposition remains strong with people committed to challenge it legally and beyond.

More information on why we should stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline:

Indigenous legal challenges and opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline

Indigenous peoples in Canada benefit from constitutional recognition and protection of their rights. The Canadian government has officially adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which includes the right to say no.

The Kinder Morgan project traverses the territory of 15 First Nation communities between Edmonton, Alberta and Burnaby, BC. Multiple concerns have been raised from the impact a spill would have on salmon populations, cultural and spiritual areas, the threat of a marine spill to coastal communities from increased tanker traffic to the Federal government’s failure to adequately consult First Nations. The Federal Court of Appeals is hearing challenges to the National Energy Board (NEB) report and Federal approval of the Kinder Morgan project from seven First Nations including the Tsleil-Waututh, Coldwater, Squamish and Stk'emlupsemc Te Secwepemc First Nations and the Upper Nicola Band. The legal challenges includes allegations that the consultations were not done in earnest, the exclusion of marine shipping concerns from the NEB report, threats to drinking water supply, the respect of fishing and Aboriginal title rights impacted by the proposed pipeline and tanker route and protection of cultural and spiritual areas. For more information, please see the Pull Together campaign raising funds for these legal challenges.

Alongside legal challenges, over 150 First Nations and Tribal Chiefs have signed the Treaty Alliance opposed to tar sands expansion which includes opposition to the Kinder Morgan project. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is outright opposed to the project.

Kinder Morgan pipeline would expand the tar sands

The Kinder Morgan pipeline, like all tar sands pipeline is completely inconsistent with meeting the Paris Agreement climate targets agreed to by the Canadian government.

Tar sands crude is 3 to 5 times more climate polluting than the production of conventional oil. Filling Kinder Morgan would justify further expansion in the tar sands with devastating effects for downstream communities, water and our climate. It would result in millions of tonnes of additional pollution, equivalent to 34 million new cars on Canada’s roads every year, at a time when we need to be cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Tar sands spill threatens drinking water, communities and the Salish Sea

The Kinder Morgan pipeline path crosses the Vedder Fan aquifer and the municipality of Chilliwack's Protecte‎d Groundwater Zone. It crosses the aquifers that supply drinking water to Abbotsford and Chilliwack. It also threatens an aquifer that is the sole source of drinking water for over 90 per cent of people on the Coldwater First Nation reserve.

The pipeline also runs directly under several schools, including Stoney Creek Community School and Lyndhurst Elementary in Burnaby, and Watson Elementary in Chilliwack. Dozens of additional schools are within a couple kilometres of the pipeline, including Forest Grove Elementary in Burnaby and twelve schools in Chilliwack. In addition, the pipeline runs underneath golf courses, shopping centres, and residential neighbourhoods.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline would allow a seven-fold increase of tankers in the Burrard Inlet. This includes supertankers carrying up to 1 million barrels of crude – three times the amount spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster off the coast of Alaska. Crude oil spills are incredibly difficult to contain or clean up and the tar sands diluted bitumen that Kinder Morgan would transport is even worse. Diluted bitumen has proven to sink when spilled in water making clean up near impossible. A major spill would permanently damage coastal communities and wildlife including Orca’s and salmon populations.

Diluted bitumen, also known as dilbit, is created by diluting thick bitumen from the tar sands with various toxic and explosive chemicals which act as solvents to make it thin enough to transport.

In July 2010, an Enbridge pipeline ruptured in Michigan, spilling 3.2 million litres of diluted bitumen into the Kalamazoo River. Much of the bitumen sank, making recovery both extremely difficult but also damaging to the ecosystem as it required the dredging of vast areas of river bed. Five years and $1.2 billion USD later, there is still submerged bitumen at the bottom of the river.

The Trudeau government knew that we don’t have a sufficient response for diluted bitumen spills when it approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Records obtained by the National Observer detail how the Trudeau government received a comprehensive peer reviewed study days before the approval of the project. The study found the science behind dealing with an unconventional oil spill was thin, identifying a number of disturbing questions and concerns.

Proposed benefits are overstated

Like other tar sands pipelines, the benefits of the project have been over stated.

A report by the Simon Fraser University and the Goodman Group Ltd. questioned Trans Mountain’s financial projections for the pipeline, arguing that the economic impacts of jobs and taxes have been overvalued, while the costs associated with possible spills have been understated. While Trans Mountain’s initial estimate that the cost of cleaning up a worst-case oil spill would be between $100 million and $300 million, the study projected that a spill would actually cost between $1 billion and $5 billion to clean up. Some reports now estimate clean up costs closer to $10 billion.

The study notes that Alberta would get about $400 million in taxes and royalties from tar sands development, while B.C. would only get about $40 million per year. While TransMountain claims 36,000 person-years of employment would be created in BC, the Simon Fraser University and Goodman Group Ltd. report says this would be more like 12,000 jobs at most. Meanwhile, 98,000 jobs in Vancouver and 320,000 jobs in BC are based on a healthy coast. 43 per cent of these are threatened by a major spill.