Posts

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.”

-30-

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!

Sierra Club BC statement in response to approval of Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

January 11 2017

Sierra Club BC released the following statement from campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon in response to the Province approving the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal:

“Today’s decision is an abject failure to stand up for B.C.’s interests.

“Despite Premier Clark’s spin on it, the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers are a terrible deal for British Columbians.

“This is not a deal, this is a B.C. sell-out. This is a betrayal of the hardworking people and places of this resource-rich province.

“The 5 conditions have not been met.

“No glossy announcement changes the fact that even with the best technology, diluted bitumen simply can’t be cleaned up. Eighty-five per cent of the oil left in the water isn’t clean. Does Premier Clark think toxic jobs in oil spill response make this a good deal for B.C.?

“The Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers is all risk and no reward for British Columbians. After the jobs in construction have ended, this project would put at risk over 98,000 coast-dependent jobs.

“B.C. has been doubly betrayed, by both our federal and provincial government. It is now up to British Columbians to protect this coast and our climate.

“This pipeline won’t be built. Just as court challenges overturned approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway, First Nations are already in court to stop this project, and more lawsuits are expected.

“The emissions from this pipeline will put us on track toward serious climate impacts for all our communities. Our climate doesn’t need this pipeline, and our economy doesn’t either. We could be supporting more jobs for B.C. workers by investing in clean energy instead.

“Today’s announcement benefits a Texas-based corporation that doesn’t have the interests of British Columbians at heart. Apparently our own government isn’t looking out for us either. We expected better.”

 -30-

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

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.

SUBJECT: Ministerial Panel On Kinder Morgan: Two Bad Processes Equal One Good One… Right?

DECISION SOUGHT: Which Friday at 4:45 pm BC-time would be the best one for approving this albatross.

PURPOSE and/or ISSUE: Kinder Morgan did kind of a crap job of their proposal and GoC process wasn’t much better, but damn the torpedoes!

BACKGROUND

  • Previous GOC helped move things along by appointing a Kinder Morgan consultant to the NEB Board. We one-upped them by appointing an LNG lobbyist with close ties to Kinder Morgan CEO to our three-person Ministerial Panel.
  • Special meetings were held for First Nations, municipal officials, experts and the public. Is it our fault they didn’t know about them?
  • Only 91.4% of speakers at Ministerial Panel meetings in BC were against Kinder Morgan! We were anticipating 95%!
  • The PM promised to redo Kinder Morgan under a new and better NEB process and then we kind of didn’t do that. See consideration below.
  • We are supposed to protect endangered orcas but the NEB process doesn’t and nor does our Ministerial Panel. People like them, so this could become a thing.
  • The NEB analysis didn’t take our Paris climate commitments into consideration and the Ministerial Panel had no mandate to re-examine such matters. Hey look! We didn’t live up to our electoral reform promise either, why start committing to things now?
  • The Kinder Morgan proposal is really, really, really, really, really, really unpopular in Burnaby and we have a newly elected MP there.

CONSIDERATIONS:

  • The panel wasn’t tasked with taking notes, and to the best of our recollection we don’t feel that many people were opposed… nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
  • Can the PM be held accountable for his election promises? After all, he made them back when young people liked him.
  • How much would an ad campaign cost about how dangerous and mean orcas are? How about “Oil Tankers: At the Front Lines of Protecting Fish Farms From Hungry Orcas” or “Orcas: They Poop Where you Swim!”
  • With the climate warming, the seasonal window for appearing shirtless will only increase.
  • Our Burnaby MP has already been invited to the Liberal Caucus Christmas Party. Awkward! Maybe he could run in Alberta in 2019?

OUTLOOK: Sunny, as per PMO orders.

RECOMMENDATION: 1. Approve. 2. Hide. 3. Announce something distracting, like a spill response plan that pretends we can clean up bitumen even though (shhh) we know it will sink.

Letter to Premier Clark regarding diluted bitumen spills

The Hon. Christy Clark, M.L.A.

Premier of British Columbia

West Annex, Parliament Buildings

Victoria, BC

V8V 1X4

 

October 5, 2016

 

Dear Premier,

We are writing today to urge you to follow the conclusions of the research on the effects of spilled bitumen which proves that spilled bitumen cannot be effectively recovered and therefore you must not approve the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

In July 2012, your government released the results of a technical analysis of heavy oil pipeline proposals in British Columbia. This analysis was used to inform your government’s current position that five principles must be met before you would consider support for such pipeline developments in our province. In January 2016, you confirmed that the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline would have to meet these five conditions before your government could support it.

These conditions include the need for “world-leading” oil spill response systems for both land and sea in order to ensure the lakes, rivers, ocean, and land are protected from the devastating and long-term impacts of an oil spill. It is the assumption of the undersigned groups that “world-leading” means effective oil spill response. In short, an oil spill response system can only be considered world-leading if it actually cleans up the oil.

The ability to clean up oil is questionable. Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Mexico are still suffering the consequences of the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 and the Deepwater Horizon spill of 2010, respectively.

But those spills involved conventional oils. British Columbia is confronted with a proposal that will result in a 6-fold increase in the amount of tar sands crude moving through the province and onto our delicate coastal waters. Most of this thick tar sands oil is thinned with condensate, creating dilbit which is able to flow through the pipelines. A 2013 study by the Government of Canada titled Properties, Composition and Marine Spill Behaviour, Fate and Transport of Two Diluted Bitumen Products from the Canadian Oil Sands found that when the spilled bitumen is exposed to sediment in marine settings, it sinks; it also found that chemical dispersants tested on dilbit were not effective.

In 2016, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)—the scientific advisor to the United States Congress and President —released a more comprehensive study titled Spills of Diluted Bitumen from Pipelines: A Comparative Study of Environmental Fate, Effects, and Response. After examining the entire field of existing studies on the environmental fate of dilbit (including the Government of Canada 2013 report) over the course of nearly two years, the NAS concluded that when compared with commonly transported crudes, diluted bitumen behaves in fundamentally different ways when spilled.

The NAS found that as a result of weathering, dilbit can and will sink when spilled in water, increasing the impacts associated with a spill. Furthermore, the study concluded that there is no technique or equipment available to effectively clean up heavy oils that have submerged, mixed into the water column or settled on the bottom of fresh- or salt-water bodies. 1 The study also noted that the evaporating diluents are known to result in risks to human health and risks of explosions. The NAS report concluded that “when all risks are considered systematically, there must be a greater level of concern associated with spills of diluted bitumen compared to spills of commonly transported crude oils” and “[T]here are no known, effective strategies for recovery of crude oil that is suspended in the water column.”2

The NAS study goes on to recommend to the US government that the results of this research “warrants modifications to the regulations governing diluted bitumen spill response plans, preparedness, and cleanup.” To date, the US Coast Guard has not acted to address the concerns in the NAS study, despite publicly stating their own concerns in testimony and agency reports.

When a pre-publication draft of the NAS study was released in December 2015, shortly before the National Energy Board (NEB) was completing its assessment of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, intervenors requested the study be considered. However, the NEB rejected this request. This has meant that the NEB’s review ignored the most comprehensive study of the effects of spilled dilbit— a significant omission that puts the health of the BC coast and rivers at risk.

Prime Minister Trudeau has acknowledged the NEB review was not credible and committed to addressing the flaws in its environmental review. In January 2016, Ministers Carr and McKenna announced an interim process for projects currently going through an NEB regulatory review and as a result a new ministerial panel was appointed to review the Kinder Morgan pipeline. After the new panel failed to convene a table of experts to consider the NAS’s findings and other studies, there are concerns the panel’s report will not consider the incredible risk the pipeline poses to the Salish Sea and British Columbia’s rivers should it be approved.

In short, neither the NEB process nor the Trudeau-appointed interim Panel considered the NAS study, which means the Prime Minister and Cabinet will be making an uninformed decision about the risks of the pipeline to the Salish Sea.

The Salish Sea is more than a body of water. It is what defines much of Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and the Gulf Islands. From the iconic beauty of Kits Beach and Stanley Park, to the commercial fisheries and tourism businesses that employ thousands, to the recreational fisheries and outdoor activities that define B.C.’s communities and livelihoods—the Salish Sea is a cherished presence in the lives of anyone who lives in or visits B.C.’s southern coast. It is a national treasure that Canadians from coast to coast to coast recognize as symbolic of Canada’s vast wilderness and natural beauty. It is western Canada’s marine gateway that helps bind this vast country together. Just like the St. Lawrence Seaway in the east, the Salish Sea is an iconic part of Canada’s rich natural, economic and cultural history.

The science has shown that today there is no spill response technology that can effectively clean up spilled diluted bitumen. Therefore we urge you to stand up to recommendations made without good information that trade off BC’s environment for political expediency. Please remain committed to the integrity of your five conditions and confirm that an effective worldleading oil spill response system does not exist for diluted bitumen, and therefore the Kinder Morgan pipeline cannot be built.

 

Sincerely,

350.org

Alerte Pétrole Rive-Sude

AQLPA

BROKE

Coalition vigilance oléoducs

Conservation Council of New Brunswick

Council of Canadians

David Suzuki Foundation

Ecology Action Centre

Ecology Ottawa

Environmental Defence

Equiterre

Force of Nature

Georgia Strait Alliance

Greenpeace

Leadnow

Les citoyens au courant

Living Oceans Society

Local 10, Saint John Chapter, Aboriginal People’s Council

Nature Quebec

Northwest Watch

NRDC

Peace New Brunswick

Pipe Up Network

Regroupement citoyen contre les bitumineux et pour le développement durable

Regroupment Vigilance Hydrocarbures Quebec

Sierra Club BC

Stand

STOP Oléoduc Île d’Orléans

Stop oléoduc Portneuf Saint-Augustin

SumofUs

Tanker Free BC

Transition Initiative Kenora

West Coast Environmental Law

Wilderness Committee

 

1 NAS study, pg. 70.

2 NAS study, pg 82.

KEY FINDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES STUDY

• “In comparison to other commonly transported crude oils, many of the chemical and physical properties of diluted bitumen, especially those relevant to environmental impacts, are found to differ substantially from those of the other crude oils. The key differences are in the exceptionally high density, viscosity, and adhesion properties of the bitumen component of the diluted bitumen that dictate environmental behavior as the crude oil is subjected to weathering (a term that refers to physical and chemical changes of spilled oil).” (pg. 3)

• “Spills of diluted bitumen into a body of water initially float and spread while evaporation of volatile compounds may present health and explosion hazards, as occurs with nearly all crude oils. It is the subsequent weathering effects, unique to diluted bitumen, that merit special response strategies and tactics . . . In cases where traditional removal or containment techniques are not immediately successful, the possibility of submerged and sunken oil increases. This situation is highly problematic for spill response because 1) there are few effective techniques for detection, containment, and recovery of oil that is submerged in the water column, and 2) available techniques for responding to oil that has sunken to the bottom have variable effectiveness depending on the spill conditions.” (pg. 3)

• “The majority of the properties and outcomes that differ from commonly transported crudes are associated not with freshly spilled diluted bitumen, but with the weathering products that form within days after a spill. Given these greater levels of concern for weathered diluted bitumen, spills of diluted bitumen should elicit unique, immediate actions in response.” (pg. 4)

• “Broadly, regulations and agency practices do not take the unique properties of diluted bitumen into account, nor do they encourage effective planning for spills of diluted bitumen.” (pg. 4)

• “In light of the aforementioned analysis, comparisons, and review of the regulations, it is clear that the differences in the chemical and physical properties relevant to environmental impact warrant modifications to the regulations governing diluted bitumen spill response plans, preparedness, and cleanup.” (pg. 4)

Featured image: Jens Wieting

Kinder Morgan faces wall of opposition in BC

When the Canadian government decided to throw together last-minute public meetings on the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline during the height of summer, they seemed to hope the meetings would float serenely under the radar.

Packed Victoria town hall on August 23. Photo by Kat Zimmer.

Packed Victoria town hall on August 23. Photo by Kat Zimmer.

The meetings were poorly promoted and the timelines were inadequate to allow people to properly prepare presentations. The locations weren’t clear and the meeting structure and online process to register were unwieldly and off-putting. Several meeting dates changed and more dates were added due to an outcry about some communities being excluded. The meetings had an ad hoc feel and it wasn’t clear to anyone how the government would use the information it compiled, or even how it would be compiled. Local First Nations told us they heard about the meetings only because organizations such as Sierra Club B.C. alerted them.

Despite all this, it was genuinely inspiring and heartening to see a passionate determination on the part of ordinary citizens to have their voices heard and to stand up for this coast. About 400 people showed up to the Victoria public meeting, many driving several hours to be there. Yet more than 100 people were shut out of the room, denied their chance to be heard.

In all the meetings, 418 people were opposed, with only 39 speaking in favour – a decisive 91.4 per cent against Kinder Morgan’s proposal. In addition, 17 First Nations were opposed, as were 21 local governments.

Over 100 people were shut out of the Victoria town hall. Photo by Kat Zimmer.

100+ people shut out of the Victoria town hall. Photo by Kat Zimmer.

 

The federal government had billed these meetings as an effort to compensate for the multiple shortcomings of the original National Energy Board hearings. The NEB recommended approval of the pipeline and tankers proposal despite widespread opposition.

Sources close to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau say he is determined to approve a pipeline – and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain is the likeliest candidate. We can’t let the federal government use this latest panel to provide an air of legitimacy to the NEB’s deeply flawed process.

Prime Minister Trudeau has said that “governments grant permits, communities grant permission”. With each of the meetings along the pipeline and tanker route, it became more and more clear that permission has not been granted. British Columbians prefer a commitment to real Sunny Ways, without the fossil fuel haze and economic malaise of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

The public meetings provide the Prime Minister with an excellent opportunity to make a change in policy direction. His government now has community backing to drop its support for Kinder Morgan and bring Canada’s economic policy into alignment with his commitments on climate. Their mandate to move boldly and decisively on climate and the economy has been confirmed. The climate math is strikingly simple: It is not possible to be a climate leader and build tar sands pipelines.

Saying no to Kinder Morgan would be to say yes to our Paris climate commitments, to protection of BC’s environment and economy from the threat of catastrophic pipeline and tanker spills and to repositioning BC and Canada as job-growth leaders in the emerging renewable energy economy.

VIDEO: Victoria environmental roundtable on August 23, courtesy of Ed Johnson at the Saanich Report

At 4:40, our climate & energy campaigner Larissa Stendie takes on the impossibility of spill response and the panel’s bias.

At 19:00, our campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon talks about the climate change implications of the pipeline.

 

Featured image (Top): Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps spoke at a large, peaceful action outside the Victoria townhall organized by Sierra Club BC, Wilderness Committee, and Greenpeace. Photo by Kat Zimmer.