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B.C. budget offers 1950s thinking in response to 2017’s challenges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 21, 2017

Sierra Club BC released the following statement from communications director Tim Pearson in response to the release of the 2017 B.C. Budget:

“This budget offers 1950s thinking in response to 2017’s challenges.

“It’s a budget blind to the need to transform our economy away from fossil fuels. It’s a budget blind to the potential jobs and prosperity that can be created with a realistic road map to a post-carbon economy. And it’s a budget that shows no meaningful commitment to climate action.

“Where are the investments in the affordable, renewable energy alternatives and innovation that will power our economy and provide jobs now and far into the future? Nowhere.

“Instead, we get support for the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers project, increased fracking and the Site C megadam—a boondoggle that will subsidize fossil fuel exploitation and drive ever increasing Hydro bills for decades to come.

“Every million dollars invested in fossil fuels generates two jobs. That same million dollars would deliver 15 jobs via renewable energy projects.

“If we want a thriving economy and good, green, family-supporting jobs, we need a budget that will drive a shift to a sustainable, post-carbon economy.

“We need affordable, climate-friendly energy sources that will create jobs in communities throughout B.C. and drive innovation in clean technology.

“We need a genuine commitment to forest health, not the re-announcement of last year’s reforestation funding and no real plan for how our forests will aid in climate action.

“For years, this government has treated the environment and climate change as an afterthought. This budget is no exception.

“It’s a blindness that will hurt our economy and rob us of jobs, as other jurisdictions leave us behind in innovation, as the market for fossil fuels evaporates and as British Columbians are left to pay down mountains of debt.”

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Contact:
Tim Pearson
Director of Communications, Sierra Club BC
(250) 896-1556
tim@sierraclub.bc.ca

Pull Together 2.0: The People vs. Kinder Morgan

Both our federal and provincial governments have given the green light to Texas-based oil company Kinder Morgan to build a tarsands pipeline and increase oil tanker traffic on the BC coast by 700%.

Despite what Premier Clark says, BC is a long way off from having “world-leading” spill response capacity – on water or on land. Accidents happen and there’s no known technology to clean up toxic diluted bitumen.

Our elected representatives are standing up for Big Oil, so it is up to the rest of us to stand up for BC and defend our communities and our climate.

A number of First Nations along the pipeline and tankers route have already filed court challenges.

It was indigenous-led legal challenges that brought an end to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal. First Nations can stop Kinder Morgan in the courts also. Let’s not stand by and watch them go it alone.

That’s why we’re relaunching Pull Together. In partnership with RAVEN Trust and the Force of Nature Alliance, we’re supporting the Tsleil-Waututh and Coldwater Nations who are in court to overturn the federal approval.

There are lots of ways you can help. During our last Pull Together campaign, there were smoothie sales and pub nights, dance performances and poetry readings. Over fifty musicians played at benefit concerts across the province.

Will you host a solidarity event in your community?

It doesn’t matter how big or small – whether you raise $100 or $1,000, your impact will be amplified by the contributions of others.

We can help get you started. Just fill out this form and we will be in touch to provide you with support.

When we pulled together to stop Enbridge, we were overwhelmed by your response. All across the province, people stepped up. People like you danced, marched, sang, paddled, stretched and ate together to support the First Nations fighting Enbridge in court. Together we raised over $600,000 for the legal costs, thanks to unprecedented solidarity between Indigenous leaders and thousands of Pull Together allies.

Photo by Michael Beach.

Not a penny of the money raised went to Sierra Club BC. This campaign is a risky one for us financially, however we feel so strongly that it’s the right thing to do that we are doing it again! We believe that standing in solidarity with First Nations requires the courage to take risks and step outside our comfort zone.

We hope you will join us. Your ongoing support is what lets us take this kind of risk. And your involvement in Pull Together is how together we will stop Kinder Morgan.

Pull Together is not just about raising money, it is about pulling together in the face of governments bent on forcing the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers on an unwilling province.

Pull Together is about building strong communities of resistance. Pull Together recognizes that when it comes to moving away from fossil fuel dependence, we are all in this together. With Trump pushing his fossil fuel agenda, it’s all the more important that we organize here in BC to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

By stopping Kinder Morgan, we can build the type of future we want in British Columbia—one that moves toward renewable, clean energy and green jobs. One in which our communities are safe from the threat of oil spills.

Together, we can do this. Ready, set, pull!

Pay up, Chevron: BC cities, towns challenged to hold fossil fuel industry accountable for climate impacts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 25, 2017

VANCOUVER, BC, Coast Salish Territories – More than 50 community groups from across BC have signed onto an open letter arguing that fossil fuel companies owe BC communities for their fair share of the impacts of climate change. The letter was delivered to all 190 municipalities and regional districts in BC, asking them to demand accountability from the fossil fuel industry, up to and including considering lawsuits against Chevron and other big fossil fuel companies.

“Fighting climate change only works when everyone does their fair share. The fossil fuel industry expects communities to pay the costs to adapt and rebuild from climate impacts, while they pocket hundreds of billions of dollars of profits,” said Andrew Gage, Staff Counsel with West Coast Environmental Law. “When communities demand accountability from fossil fuel companies, the industry will finally have an incentive to get out of the way of those who want to build a sustainable future – or, better yet, to start working with us.”

The open letter references the work of carbon accountant Richard Heede, who has calculated that pollution from the operations and products of the three largest fossil fuel companies alone (Chevron, Exxon and Saudi Aramco) represent almost 10% of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere today. Just 90 entities – mostly fossil fuel companies – are responsible for about 2/3 of the historic greenhouse gas emissions.

Montana Burgess, Executive Director of the West Kootenay EcoSociety signed on to the letter because her rural region is already experiencing the impacts of carbon pollution.

“Thanks to global fossil fuel pollution, our communities are having to prepare for winters with less snow and much more rain. We’ve seen how this creates landslides, drought and forest fires at home, in the West Kootenays. Right now, ordinary people are paying for these costly disasters. Each community needs to do its part to transition off fossil fuels and get onto 100% renewable energy, but until Chevron, Exxon and the other big oil companies take responsibility for the harm caused by their products, we won’t get there on the global scale,” Burgess said.

The signatories to the letter – which include representatives of the environmental, health, human rights, women’s rights and faith sectors – point out that BC communities are already paying significant costs for the impacts of climate change. In addition to direct impacts – such as wildfires, flooding and the destruction of forests by the mountain pine beetle – communities also faced with the costs of preparing for expected impacts, such as paying to build infrastructure that can withstand rising sea levels, extreme weather, droughts and other climate impacts.

The Province of BC has estimated that Metro Vancouver Municipalities will need to spend $9.5 billion between now and 2100 to address rising sea-levels (about $100 million per year on average).

West Coast Environmental Law and many of the signatories are hoping to engage with and support local governments who pursue fossil fuel company accountability. West Coast has launched a website – climatelawinourhands.org – providing resources to help local governments draft letters to the fossil fuel industry, including template letters and fossil fuel company addresses. West Coast is also offering local governments legal research and support related to possible litigation against the fossil fuel companies.

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View the open letter to BC local governments

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Andrew Gage | Legal Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law

604-601-2506 (Vancouver) or 250-412-9784 (Victoria), andrew_gage@wcel.org

 

Anjali Appadurai | Climate Communications Specialist, West Coast Environmental Law

604-601-2504, anjali_appadurai@wcel.org

 

 

Quotes from signatories around the province:

“If the fossil fuel industry is prepared to endanger the integrity of creation by contributing so directly to changing the climate of the planet, they should at least be equally prepared to hold themselves accountable. Some of their profits come at the expense of communities and they should pay those costs.”

– Robert Hart, Knox United Church, Terrace

“Just as the tobacco companies are being forced to pay for the health costs they tried to hide, fossil fuel companies will be held to account for the damages from climate change. With a climate denier in the White House, it is now more important than ever for Canadians to take on a leadership role in forcing carbon polluters to stop putting communities at risk and to pay for the harm already being felt.”

– Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada

“Local governments are already on the front lines dealing with climate impacts like wildfires and drought. Making polluters pay will relieve the burden on local taxpayers and businesses.”

– Caitlyn Vernon, Sierra Club BC

“Protecting our environment is one of the ways we protect our health and that of future generations. British Columbia has an important responsibility to all Canadians to ensure that our energy policies are good for the health of populations and the planet. ”

– Cecelia Velasco, Public Health Association of BC

“For too long pollution profiteers have ignored climate change while expecting the rest of us to pay the tab. Now it’s time for them to pay up. Adapting to a warming world will cost BC communities billions of dollars — an impossible price tag that would rob us of money for transit, parks and just about everything else. Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for the fossil fuel industry’s willful negligence.”

– Peter McCartney, Wilderness Committee

“The fossil fuel industry began in earnest 150 years ago. But times have changed, and now we’ve run the course with fossil fuels, and it’s time to move on to better forms of energy, because now the harms far exceed the benefits. Those who cling to the old ways need to be persuaded that they must do their part to bring about this transition. If persuasion fails, then legal action is the obvious next step.”

– Warren Bell, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

“As people committed to the life and teachings of Jesus, we are challenged by his readiness to call the powerful to be accountable for their misuse and abuse of power. In the same spirit, we believe fossil fuel industries which profit from intensive greenhouse gas emissions should be financially accountable for the effects they are causing on our climate and the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. We encourage other people of faith and concerned citizens across BC to join hands in demanding these companies take responsibility for causing harmful climate impacts.”

– Jason Wood, EarthKeepers

“Climate change will affect all of us, and it will certainly affect salmon and the communities they feed. We urge our local governments to exercise every tool available, including the law, to demand accountability from the fossil fuel industry.”

– Heather Forbes, Salmon Coast Field Station Society

“Fossil fuel companies reap enormous profits from the remains of the ancient creatures and plants that they dig out of the ground as oil or other fossil fuels. The cost of cleaning up the mess left behind is usually paid for by the public. This is an untenable situation and the fossil fuel companies know it. They should be required to provide compensation for the costs associated with the environmental effects of their activities which contribute to the ever more extreme climate which the planet is suffering.”

– Gayle Neilson, Sunshine Coast Conservation Association

Why my brain injury makes me fight to save whales

When a serious concussion forced Sierra Club BC’s Campaigns Director to escape from noise, she realised she had more in common with the threatened orcas that she thought. And that knowledge makes her more determined than ever to stop Kinder Morgan’s pipeline. Hear Caitlyn’s story and please make your gift to protect BC’s orcas.

 

Kinder Morgan will not be built

By Caitlyn Vernon

December 2, 2016

We highly recommend reading our Enbridge blog first, taking some time to celebrate that awesome victory, and then reading on here for next steps.

If Prime Minister Trudeau thought cancelling one pipeline in B.C. provides the justification to approve another, he needs to give his head a shake. Make no mistake, Trudeau has picked a fight with British Columbia.

Even Conservative leader Rona Ambrose doesn’t think the Kinder Morgan pipeline will be built.
Legal challenges have already been filed. Municipalities and First Nations are vowing to do what it takes.

We know how to do this. We have faced an oil-loving Prime Minister before.

We stopped one pipeline, we will stop another one.

Trudeau has made B.C.—and especially the south coast—a sacrifice zone in a cynical political calculus. It has nothing to do with evidence, nothing to do with science and absolutely nothing to do with the interests of British Columbians. Trudeau’s decision was pure politics. He’s done the political math and he thinks he can weather the opposition. That means our job is to get bigger, to build the movement up even stronger and more diverse.

There is no doubt in my mind that we can do this. Just as B.C. communities and First Nations stood together to stop Enbridge, we will do the same with Kinder Morgan.

In the courts, at the polls, on the streets.

Will Kinder Morgan become Trudeau’s Clayoquot Sound? People are already training in civil disobedience, which has played a role throughout history in overthrowing injustice, from Martin Luther King to women getting the vote to Clayoquot Sound to Standing Rock. In a free and democratic society, that is a choice people have a right to make.

Here at Sierra Club BC that’s not a path we promote, as it would violate the rules of our charitable status. We acknowledge, however, the urgency around climate action and protecting endangered orca whales and respecting Indigenous rights that might lead people to choose this path.

Our role will be to support First Nations’ legal challenges, just as we did with Enbridge. Four legal challenges have already been filed by six nations, and more will come.

Fifty-nine First Nations in BC are opposed to Kinder Morgan, and over 100 nations across the continent have signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion.

Stay tuned for how you can get involved by organizing events to support the First Nations legal challenges.

There is a B.C. election coming up. Will our provincial government stand up for B.C. and refuse to issue permits for Kinder Morgan? We need to make this an election issue.

Premier Clark seems to think B.C.’s 5 conditions have just about been met. This is despite a flawed review process, significant First Nations opposition, and the reality that dilbit sinks and there is no known technology that can clean it up.

The approval of Kinder Morgan makes me angry, that we have to fight to hold the line when instead we so urgently need to be building the post-carbon economy. It also makes me more determined. And our victory over Enbridge gives me hope. Because we know how to win this fight.

Let’s take the lessons learned and the momentum we’ve gained from the Enbridge campaign and apply them to the task of stopping Kinder Morgan dead in its tracks. We’re getting stronger.

It won’t be easy, but I know we will come out victorious. Together.

Please chip in today to help us make this happen.

Feature image by Harold Hommel

Victory: We stopped Enbridge for good!

By Caitlyn Vernon

November 30, 2016

Thanks to you and so many more like you all over the province, we did it!

After years of tireless, selfless struggle—organizing, marching, petitioning, writing submissions and speaking at NEB hearings, getting spied on by our own government’s security apparatus, raising funds for First Nations legal challenges, you name it—we finally got what we were so passionately demanding: the end of Enbridge.

This particular fight is finally over. For good. The Northern Gateway pipeline will not get built. Supertankers filled with diluted bitumen won’t sail through the Douglas Channel and threaten the jewel that is the Great Bear Rainforest. The risk of ecological and economic catastrophe that Enbridge posed has been avoided and we can all take a deep breath of relief. (Prime Minister Trudeau intends to legislate a tanker ban for the north coast. We will work to ensure the legislation is as strong as possible, so that we don’t have to fight any similar tanker proposals in the future.)

Our salmon—and the northern economy that depends on them—are now safer, as are the spirit bears, the humpback whales and all the delicate ecosystems of the north coast.

This, my friends, is a legendary achievement. Take time to celebrate, to savour the taste of victory. Don’t let the government’s reckless, irresponsible approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the Petronas fracked gas plant undermine this victory – tomorrow we will work to stop Kinder Morgan and Petronas, today we celebrate!

To every one of Sierra Club BC’s incredible supporters: thank you. To every one of you who contributed to Pull Together: thank you. To the communities along the pipeline and tanker route who led the way for so many years: thank you. To every one of our friends and allies: thank you.
And most especially, to every one of the First Nations who stood resolute and strong in the face of the wealth and might of corporate and government power: thank you.

In particular, I want to name the Heiltsuk, Gitga’at, Gitxaala, Haida, Kitasoo-Xai’xais, Nadleh Whut’en, and Nak’azdli Nations, whose court cases overturned the federal approval of Enbridge and whose precedent will push governments in the right direction for years to come.

It was a privilege to witness their courage and determination and to support them (along with RAVEN Trust) through the Pull Together initiative, which raised more than $600,000 for legal costs. Theirs was true leadership and their example has shown us a path to victory in the coming fight to stop Kinder Morgan.

I believe that when historians look back at the death of the Enbridge pipeline, they will come to see it as the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era in British Columbia.

There’s still much work to be done. Clearly, we have a federal government that doesn’t understand you can’t be a climate leader and build pipelines. Clearly, our provincial government, with its obsession with liquefied fracked gas, still doesn’t get it.

But this was a landmark moment, make no mistake.

History is on our side. The end of fossil fuels is inevitable. The only question is when we are not just celebrating the end of a pipeline, but the end of an era.

The Enbridge victory, above all, gives me hope. It shows the power of everyday people. It shows what we can achieve when we come together. It shows the path to the kind of future we all want: one powered by truly clean, renewable energy; one that respects nature and lives within her limits; one that respects indigenous governance; and one that makes sure no one is left behind by a post-carbon world.

Take some time to celebrate! Just look what we can do, when we stand together. I am filled with hope for what we will do next. We stopped one pipeline, we can stop another one.

Kinder Morgan panel report raises crucial questions for cabinet

By Caitlyn Vernon

November 3, 2016

Do you remember those hastily-arranged, poorly-organized meetings that the federal government set up in the dog days of August to get input on the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers proposal?

You know, the meetings in which an ad hoc ministerial panel was charged with the task of compensating for the enormous shortcomings of the National Energy Board’s process, conducted under the Harper government? The meetings at which 91.4 per cent of speakers opposed Kinder Morgan?

Well, the panel released its report this week, and it raises a series of crucial questions for the federal cabinet. Simply put, these questions make approval impossible.

The panel asked that Cabinet consider how building this pipeline can be reconciled with Canada’s climate change commitments. Spoiler alert: it can’t—you can’t build pipelines and be a climate leader. End of story.

#StopKM rally in Victoria

Rally at the summer meeting in Victoria. Photo by Kat Zimmer.

The panel also asked how cabinet could square approval with a federal commitment to reconciliation with First Nations. Again, you can’t, given the numerous First Nations who adamantly oppose this project.

The panel pointed out recent oil spills and the inadequacy of response and suggested that “the Government must decide whether the Trans Mountain Pipeline is a worthwhile risk.”

The panel asked how the federal cabinet can be confident of its decision given the flaws in the NEB process and public criticism of the ministerial panel’s own review. Good question.

The reality is that the report from the Ministerial Panel does not provide the basis for Cabinet approval of Kinder Morgan. We can only imagine how Prime Minister Trudeau, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, and Environment & Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna are scrambling to figure out how to spin this.

In fact, approving this project would be abandoning Canada’s commitment to real climate action, would impose a death sentence on the southern resident orca population and would invite ecological and economic disaster in the form of an inevitable tanker spill.

The Ministerial Panel report makes clear that there is no way to approve this pipeline without undermining commitments on climate and indigenous rights.

If cabinet takes the report’s questions seriously and bases its decision on the best available science, there is no way this pipeline will be built.

And yet rationality has been lacking lately. It’s distinctly possible that the federal government will announce approval in the next few weeks, just as it approved the Petronas fracked gas plant and the Site C megadam (which will power the fracking fields in the Peace), and just as it adopted the grossly inadequate emissions targets of the Harper government.

But stay tuned, because along with the 91.4% of people who voiced their opposition to the panel, we aren’t going anywhere. This is our home, and the fight is far from over.

Please donate today to help us keep up the fight.

Feature image by Gerry Gaydos.

Kinder Morgan report raises questions that make pipeline approval impossible

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

November 3, 2016

Victoria, B.C.—Sierra Club BC released the following statement from campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon.

“The report by the ministerial panel, released today by Natural Resources Canada, highlights the failures of the NEB process and raises a series of crucial questions for cabinet’s consideration.

“These questions make approval impossible.

“In answer to the panel’s question about climate change, the science is clear: building this pipeline would make it impossible to meet Canada’s climate commitments. You can’t build pipelines and be a climate leader.

“Regarding the panel’s question about how cabinet could square approval with a federal commitment to reconciliation with First Nations, the answer can be found in the numerous First Nations who firmly oppose this project.

“The panel also raises the question of how cabinet can be confident in an assessment based in a process full of flaws, both the NEB process and the ministerial panel meetings themselves.

“The panel asks—given recent spills and the inadequacy of spill response—whether this pipeline and tankers project is worth the risk.

“They also note the evidence presented to the NEB that the project would have significant impact on southern resident killer whales that are protected under the federal Species at Risk Act.

“This panel was no remedy for a flawed NEB process, and this report does not provide the basis for a federal cabinet approval.

“Approving this project would be abandoning our commitment to real climate action, imposing a death sentence on the southern resident orca population and inviting ecological and economic disaster in the form of an inevitable tanker spill.

“If cabinet takes these questions seriously and bases its decision on the best available science, there is no way this pipeline will be built.”

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See attached backgrounder for a summary of flaws in the ministerial panel processes.

 

Contact:

Tim Pearson

Director of Communications, Sierra Club BC

250-896-1556

tim@sierraclub.bc.ca

 

Backgrounder:

The problems that Sierra Club BC and other organizations have identified with the ministerial panel’s approach include the following:

Lack of clear mandate

  • Panel had no mandate to make recommendations based on their findings, and therefore no clarity for participants on how the government would use the information it compiled, how it would be compiled, or how it might impact Cabinet decision-making.

Inadequate outreach to key participants

  • Some local First Nations leaders and municipal officials only heard about the meetings through Facebook and other unofficial channels, while others were informed on short notice.
  • Meetings of “experts” were scheduled, but no outreach was made to experts who had concerns about the project. They were left to self-identify.

Panelist conflict of interest/perception of bias

  • Panel Chair Kim Baird had a past business relationship with the proponent, was a registered LNG lobbyist, and penned a pro-pipeline op-ed in a national newspaper while the panel process was underway.

Unreasonable, late stage interference in submissions process

  • Approximately 55,000 people submitted comments and letters, but 2 days before the comment deadline, the Panel sent letters to numerous individuals and citizens’ groups that said they would not consider repetitive letters initiated by third parties. The B.C. Civil Liberties Association found this “dismissal is an unreasonable interference in expression of freedom of individuals and their participation in a public consultation process.” After the BCCLA letter, the NEB reversed its decision, but the experience left participants with a continued sense of government bias against citizens opposed to the proposal.

Poor Meeting Organization

  • Meetings were announced on short notice in the middle of summer. The online process to register was cumbersome and a deterrent to participation.
  • Locations in many communities were difficult to access and no provisions were made to make access easier. Due to time and room capacity limitations, hundreds of attendees were not able to participate.
  • No translation was available for French-speaking participants until the last 2 days of meetings.
  • No official records (no stenographer or audio-video recordings) were taken and the Panel’s mandate was broad and poorly defined, amplifying concerns of process bias.

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Band-Aid panel report can’t salvage flawed Kinder Morgan pipeline review

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 2, 2016

Toronto, ON – As a Ministerial Panel is due to report on this summer’s last minute revisiting of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker proposal, environmental groups from across Canada today sent MPs a briefing note on the fundamentally flawed review process. Prepared by Sierra Club BC, Environmental Defence and Équiterre, the document shows the lack of public confidence in the Kinder Morgan process. Restarting the Kinder Morgan review after reforming the NEB is the only viable option.

“The NEB review of Kinder Morgan was hopelessly biased towards corporate interests and excluded public participation, environmental impacts and climate change impacts from its deliberations. Unfortunately, despite our high hopes, Prime Minister Trudeau’s ministerial panel had no way to remedy these deficiencies,” said Caitlyn Vernon, Campaigns Director with Sierra Club BC.

“The only conclusion the federal government can properly make from the feedback at the public meetings this summer is that Canadian communities do not grant social license for this project. 91 per cent of presenters were opposed, joining 210,000 petition signers, 22 B.C. municipalities and 66 First Nations.”

Environmental groups Sierra Club BC, Environmental Defence and Équiterre sent briefings to all 338 MPs this morning outlining the flaws that plagued the National Energy Board (NEB) review of Kinder Morgan. The briefings also summarized the serious flaws in the Ministerial Panel’s public meetings, which were hastily held this summer to garner additional input from affected communities and First Nations. Without any mandate or formal structure, they ended up just being a place for community members to vent their frustrations with the process and opposition to Kinder Morgan. The panel is due to report to the Minister of Natural Resources this week.

“The Prime Minister hasn’t fulfilled his promise to review Kinder Morgan under a fundamentally overhauled process,” said Patrick DeRochie, Climate & Energy Program Manager with Environmental Defence. “Canadians from coast to coast are concerned about Kinder Morgan because they know that the NEB cannot be trusted to protect our land, water and shared climate.”

During its review, the NEB curtailed public participation, ignored scientific evidence from intervenors, and failed to investigate health impacts or adequately consult First Nations. The previous federal government even appointed a former Kinder Morgan consultant to the NEB.

“Canadians voted for a new federal government that promised to fix the broken NEB and restart pipeline reviews – including Kinder Morgan,” Steven Guilbeault, Senior Director of Équiterre added. “Instead of a reformed NEB, we got a Ministerial Panel with no mandate to make recommendations, further undermining public confidence.”

As the federal government approaches a final decision on the pipeline and tankers in December, the groups are reminding all MPs that the discredited Kinder Morgan review is not the way to objectively assess major fossil fuel infrastructure in an era when Canada must fulfill its domestic and international climate commitments.

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For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Caitlyn Vernon, Sierra Club BC, (250) 896-3500; caitlyn@sierraclub.bc.ca
Tim Ehlich, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 223; (647) 468-3641 (cell); tehlich@environmentaldefence.ca
Dale Robinson, Équiterre, (514) 605-2000; drobertson@equiterre.org

Briefing Notes:

ISSUE BRIEFING: KINDER MORGAN PROCESS FLAWS

ISSUE BRIEFING: KINDER MORGAN PROJECT

 

Solidarity with Heiltsuk Nation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 20, 2016

Vancouver, B.C. – Controversy continues to swirl around the Federal Government’s slow and inadequate response to the significant amounts of diesel oil that continue to seep out of the sunken tug, Nathan E. Stewart in BC’s Great Bear Rainforest. On Vancouver’s Breakfast Television, Prime Minister Trudeau dodged questions regarding his campaign promise to ban oil tanker traffic in the world-famous region, and instead blamed the previous government for the disaster for years of “under-investment”.

Late last week the Nathan E Stewart ran aground in Heiltsuk First Nation traditional territorial waters releasing huge amounts of diesel oil into the water forcing an emergency closure of the Heiltsuk Nation’s seafood beds.

Members of the Heiltsuk Nation, who observed and reported the spill response as it occurred, clearly and consistently described it as “totally inadequate”. Their nation’s waters have been polluted with diesel fuel and their clam and seafood beds are closed indefinitely, costing them tens of thousands of dollars in the short-term and long-term damage to their economy that will be difficult to revitalize. The Heiltsuk Nation are calling for an immediate implementation of a full and complete tanker ban that the Prime Minister campaigned on in 2015.

“This oil spill, described as a heartbreaking nightmare by the Heiltsuk, is a sobering reminder of why we need a legislated ban on oil tankers for BC’s north coast,” said Sierra Club BC’s campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon. “There is nothing ‘world-class’ or effective about spill response that takes 20 hours to arrive. It’s not enough to talk about protecting the coast, when is this government going to stand by their word and legislate a strong tanker ban?”

Spill response on the BC coast is privatized and carried out by Western Canada Marine Response Corporation. The company is 51%-owned by Kinder Morgan, who has come under fire for their lack of clarity and detail in the spill response plans submitted with their pipeline and tanker project application that, if approved, would lead to a 700% increase in tankers transiting through Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet and the Salish Sea.

Environmental organizations like Stand, the Wilderness Committee, Sierra Club BC, West Coast Environmental Law, Greenpeace, the Georgia Strait Alliance, Force of Nature, North Shore NOPE and civil society organizations like Lead Now and SumofUs support the Heiltsuk call for a tanker ban, while noting that effective fossil fuel spill clean-up technology does not yet exist.

“Improvements to any sort of spill response off BC’s coast are obviously overdue and desperately needed,” said Sven Biggs of Stand. “But industry considers 10-15% recovery of a spill ‘successful’ – that is just not good enough. Prevention is the only real solution. That’s why so many British Columbia communities and nations, municipalities and individuals oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project that would see 400 tankers a year through Burrard Inlet and the Salish Sea.”

While the impacts of the diesel oil spill have been considerable for the marine environment, there are also major social and economic costs to the Heiltsuk Nation.

“Our heart goes out to the Heiltsuk who have lost their winter harvest in this spill. No community should ever have to go through this. Botched responses, poisoned waters and ruined livelihoods are becoming far too familiar,” said Peter McCartney from the Wilderness Committee.

“Aside from the obvious impacts of this disaster, what also gets to me is the passing of the buck over who should take responsibility for this nightmare. The Premier blamed the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister blamed the previous Prime Minister. They could learn from the Heiltsuk who have demonstrated true leadership during this crisis,” noted Greenpeace’s Eduardo Sousa. “In fact the Feds should take their lead from First Nations on what fixes need to be done to prevent this from ever happening again.”

A strong tanker ban is the only sure way to protect British Columbia’s coastal waters from a devastating oil spill.

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Full Transcript:

Breakfast Television interviewer Riaz Meghji:
“And with the protection of the environment, there’s been much talk, here on the West Coast, with the recent diesel spill here in the waters off of Great Bear Rainforest, our premier has been critical of the federal government in terms of the disaster cleanup. What is your response to the idea of calls for an all-out tanker ban, to avoid these types of things happening in the first place?”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:
“Well over, over the past years there’s been a lot of under investment by the federal government in marine safety and spill response and that’s something we’re absolutely committed to turn around and one of the symbols of that is uh, as — uh, well as someone who knows Vancouver and the Lower Mainland as well as I do — one of the first things we did was reopen the Kits Coast Guard base. Because we understand that having responders there if something happens is absolutely essential. We’re continuing to make historic investments in marine safety, spill response, and the kind of protection of our extraordinary coast not just for its pristine natural beauty but for the tens of thousands of British Columbians who make their livings on those waters every single day.”

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Caitlyn Vernon, Campaigns Director, Sierra Club BC (250) 896-3500, caitlyn@sierraclub.bc.ca
Sven Biggs, Campaigner, Stand (formerly Forest Ethics), 778 882 8354 sven@stand.earth
Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner, Wilderness Committee 778-239-1935, peter@wildernesscommittee.org
Sarah Beuhler, For the Coast, 778-988-2323, sarah@forthecoast.ca

 

 

Image credit: Alan Vernon, Flickr Creative Commons