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Sierra Club BC applauds Province’s Kinder Morgan announcement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

August 10, 2017

Sierra Club BC released the following statement from communications director Tim Pearson in response to today’s Kinder Morgan announcement by the Province:

“Sierra Club BC welcomes and applauds today’s announcement.

“The provincial government was elected on a promise to use every tool available to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the threat of a seven-fold increase in bitumen tankers on our coast.

“Today’s announcement is a serious and considered first step to fulfilling that promise.

“Engaging external counsel with the stature of Thomas Berger sends a clear signal that the Province will leave no legal stone unturned. There are complicated legal issues involved and no one is better qualified to provide advice to the Province.

“Berger’s legal career—including the 1973 Calder decision, the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry in the mid-1970s and his influence in enshrining Indigenous rights in Canada’s constitution—is central to the evolution of Indigenous title and rights in Canada.

“Sierra Club BC is optimistic that the Province will be successful in gaining intervenor status in the various active court cases, based upon Berger’s advice.

“Sierra Club BC will continue its work through the Pull Together campaign to raise funds for First Nations court cases. So far, more than $1 million has been raised for both the successful Enbridge cases and those against Kinder Morgan.

“The combination of well-funded First Nations and an intervening provincial government will be a potent one in the courts.

“Today’s announcement also puts Kinder Morgan on notice that it has failed to meet the requirements for consultation with First Nations set out in the conditions of its environmental certificate, issued by the previous government.

“Kinder Morgan cannot commence construction in September without breaking the law, unless all conditions are met.

“We have a new government in part because voters on the pipeline route said no to Kinder Morgan and no to any government that would approve the pipeline.

“A clear majority of British Columbians voted for parties opposed to the pipeline and a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic.

“Sierra Club BC is encouraged that today’s announcement outlined first steps for the provincial government. We look forward to the Province expanding on those steps and signalling its continued commitment to stopping the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers project.”

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Contact:

Tim Pearson

Communications Director

Sierra Club BC

250-896-1556

tim@sierraclub.bc.ca

Petro-Corporations vs. the people of the Skeena

Old Hazelton. Photo by Mark Worthing.

By Mark Worthing, Conservation and Climate Campaigner

This July, I traveled north to visit communities within the mighty Skeena watershed. This was a chance to learn about the petroleum industry’s attempted incursions into Wet’suwet’en, Gitxsan and Tsimshian territories, and the communities that are defending their homes, lands and waters.

The resiliency, power and commitment of this Indigenous-led land defence work leaves me speechless.  And amongst the settler communities who have made homes in the vast drainages of the Skeena and its tributaries, there is an intensely rich understanding of their own relationships with the land.

The stories, solidarity and community-based visioning happening in these places is some of the strongest and most colourful this side of the Rockies.

Yet attempts by international corporations to push extractive industries remain at an all-time high. With recent shifts in government and successes under our belt—like cancellation of the Enbridge pipeline and tankers project, and Petronas’ fracked gas plant—people in the northwest are reviewing their tactics while remaining steadfast in long term land-based sovereignty work.

Hagwilget Canyon. Photo by Mark Worthing.

From my perspective, the general feeling is this: people are tentatively hopeful.

But the work never seems to end, and we must not let our guard down simply because there is a different flavor of political power at the helm.  The proof will be in the pudding. The collective work of cultivating healthy cultures of resistance to industrial extractivism is a lifestyle and not simply a campaign.  And there are many more existing and proposed pipelines that cross those territories without consent.

With multinational fracking and LNG corporations attempting to force projects down the throats of communities and seeking anyone who is willing to sign deals, we will need to stay true to our work in uplifting and affirming the traditional Indigenous governance structures that are inextricably linked to the land.

I admit I had never quite grasped the implications of the Delgamuukw and Tsilhqot’in court cases until I spent time in the Yintah (Territory) of the Unist’ot’en and Luutkudziiwus, different house groups with specific lands within the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan Nations respectively. They are each occupying their territories full time according to their own laws. The court cases laid the groundwork for obtaining Title to lands in the eyes of Canadian law, which would return governance and authority to First Nations. This would make stopping unwanted pipelines a whole lot easier.

I also spent time with community members in Dodge Cove on Digby Island, a short boat ride from Prince Rupert. Within an hour of arriving, I heard about Petronas cancelling its controversial fracked gas plant on Lelu Island. The whole town was buzzing with excitement.  That night we raised a glass of champagne to its defeat and to the success of the land defence work of the Lax Kw’alaams and those who helped defend the salmon habitat of Flora Bank.

Unist’ot’en mural. Photo by Mark Worthing.

But for the community of Dodge Cove, the fight isn’t over. They have another battle on their hands: the massive fracked gas plant being proposed by Nexen, owned by Chinese oil giant CNOOC.

The company’s complete disregard for this community was horrific to hear about. The plant would be built less than a kilometre from this historic town, violating international siting standards and putting human safety at risk. They continue to buzz helicopters above people’s homes and conduct test-drilling without consultation or consideration. Don’t believe what you hear from this company. If you see what they are proposing on the ground, your stomach will turn.

Members of the community were grateful for the help Sierra Club BC’s supporters provided by sending letters to the BC Environmental Assessment Office. The EAO received so many submissions—the vast majority of which were opposed to the project—that the review was paused for nearly three months.

But now it’s up and running again, and you can be sure the company is moving full steam ahead.

LNG is not dead in BC, not by a long shot.

 

Stay up to date on the fight for a sustainable energy future in BC by signing up for our monthly newsletter and action alerts.

Feature image: Suskwa River by Mark Worthing.

Be bold: Stories from the women who inspire us

By Sue Elrington, Sierra Club BC

April 2017

(L-R) Songhees Elder Joan Morris, Rachel Vincent, Casey Camp-Horinek, Helen Knott, Caitlyn Vernon, and Sue Elrington.

We stand at a moment in time where we are witnessing clear threats to our environment and our social structures. It is a moment that demands action, whether that be action to defend our civil liberties, our rights to security, our rights as women, or simply the planet.

Women are at the forefront of resistance to these threats. Earlier this year, more than 4 million people took part in women’s marches around the world. Women are inspiring and being inspired.

Some of their stories have been captured in Rachel Vincent’s When We Are Bold: Women Who Turn Our Upsidedown World Right. To encourage new and longtime environmental activists, in March Sierra Club BC invited Rachel to anchor an evening of storytelling based on the book.

Helen Knott on protecting her ancestral lands from the Site C dam.

Joining Rachel Vincent were Casey Camp Horinek, a Ponca Elder in the midst of the Standing Rock battle, Helen Knott, a Treaty 8 poet and activist against the Site C megadam, and Sierra Club BC’s director of campaigns, Caitlyn Vernon.

Rachel opened the evening talking about why so many women become environmental activists. In her work around the world, she repeatedly she sees women forced into activism to protect their homes, their water, and their agricultural land from extractive industries. That was certainly the case with Berta Cercares, the Honduran activist whose resistance so threatened the powerful that they murdered her in 2016.  (Rachel read from a story by Berta’s daughter that is featured in When We Are Bold).

Helen Knott clearly feels she has no choice but to be an activist in the struggle to save her ancestral land and cultural home from the destruction of the Site C megadam. One of the hardest things about being an activist is persisting in the fight when you feel outgunned by the powerful who have no respect for the world you want so passionately to protect. Helen brought much of the audience to tears are she explored the emotions that can overwhelm us in “For The Mamas on Frontlines with their Fists Raised up High,” a poem written to speak to us as activists. (Read Helen’s poem here.)

Caitlyn Vernon, Rachel Vincent and Casey Camp-Horinek.

Caitlyn Vernon, Sierra Club BC’s director of campaigns, has never known a time when she wasn’t an activist. She felt Helen’s poem deeply, sharing her very personal experiences in her journey as a fierce advocate for the environment. In speaking of the condescension, ignorance, touching and groping from men who were supposed to be working with her, Caitlyn shone a light on the dual struggles of most female activists: the primary one—in her case, defending nature—and the second one, usually hidden from view, where women battle the very people we should be able to trust to have our backs in the big fight. But we persist. As an activist, you keep your eyes on the goal.

For Casey Camp-Horinek, this has meant taking on new roles. Casey is a Elder from the Ponca Nation who describes herself first as a matriarch of her clan. She followed her sons to join the encampment at Standing Rock where she was arrested for nine days. Casey spoke eloquently about moving beyond inertia by finding new ways to act for the planet. She wants municipal governments to give nature the same standing and and the same rights in law as humans have. She has become a Council member to push this dream into reality.

There was much talk throughout the evening regarding how, for so many women, their activist journeys started with conversations. Conversations around kitchen tables with neighbours that led to decisions to act. There is no act too small, no vision too big to take on. We just have to BE BOLD.

“If we all stand together, there’s a beautiful way forward.” Casey Camp-Horinek shares about her experiences at Standing Rock and the importance of alliances between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Special thanks to Kirk Schwartz, MediaNet and Pacific Peoples’ Partnership for producing these videos.

Casey Camp-Horinek on defending land and water

“If we all stand together, there’s a beautiful way forward.” Native rights activist, actor and Councillor of the Ponca Nation Casey Camp-Horinek on her experiences at Standing Rock and the importance of alliances between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to protect the land and water we all depend on.Special thanks to Kirk Schwartz, MediaNet and Pacific Peoples' Partnership for videography, production and technical support.

Posted by Sierra Club BC on Tuesday, May 2, 2017

“It’s crucial to start honouring those promises that were made.” Watch and share this powerful interview with Helen Knott to learn why stopping the Site C dam is critical for Canada’s relationship with First Nations:

Help Helen stop the destruction — tell Trudeau to honour his promises to First Nations and suspend approval of Site C:

 

Feature image by Kat Zimmer.

Report links steep increases in domestic hydro bills to province’s reckless handouts to LNG companies and Kinder Morgan

March 27, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

VICTORIA—British Columbians will face alarming increases in hydro rates for decades to come because of the B.C. government’s reckless gamble on liquefied fracked gas and the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers project, says a new report from Sierra Club BC.

The report, Hydro Bill Madness: The BC Government Goes For Broke With Your Money, shows how BC government subsidies to the LNG industry, offered in an attempt to lure companies to BC despite adverse market conditions, come at great expense to BC taxpayers and BC Hydro ratepayers. Power subsidies to even just two or three of the proposed LNG plants could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars per year, on top of royalty and tax cuts, the cost of building the Site C dam, and energy subsidies to other industrial users like Kinder Morgan.

“Why is our government expecting British Columbians to pay a handout to international corporations each time we pay our hydro bill?” said Sierra Club BC campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon. “In their desperation to secure a deal, they are making terrible deals with serious consequences for all BC residents.”

The report points out that Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, if built, would be powered with subsidized energy at a cost to ratepayers of at least $540 million over twenty years.

“When the BC government approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers they implied the $25-50 million per year from the company would somehow make up for long-term job losses and economic impacts of oil spills,” said Vernon. “What they failed to mention is that BC is giving $27 million per year to Kinder Morgan, in the form of subsidized energy.”

The handouts don’t stop there: the report questions the need for the multi-billion dollar Site C earth-fill dam project, which is intended to supply below-cost energy to fracking and LNG export facilities that may never get built, and will contribute to escalating hydro rates over the dam’s 70-year payback period.

“The BC government is building an expensive dam we don’t need in order to offer subsidies to fracking and LNG companies, with BC hydro ratepayers footing the bill for generations to come,” said Vernon.

Sierra Club BC’s report notes that alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal create more enduring employment while providing a more flexible and cost effective avenue for addressing BC’s future energy needs.

“Our government is single-mindedly pursuing LNG export against all odds and at any cost, but we can choose a different future for this province and our Hydro bills. We have better, cheaper and cleaner energy options, like solar and wind. It’s not too late to stop the Site C dam,” said Vernon.

“British Columbians need to make their voices heard on these issues in the upcoming election, because they are the ones who will be paying the price for these bad decisions.”

Report: Hydro Bill Madness: The BC Government Goes For Broke With Your Money

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Media contact:
Caitlyn Vernon
Campaigns Director
Sierra Club BC
250-896-3500
caitlyn@sierraclub.bc.ca

Hydro Bill Madness

Did you know that as a BC Hydro ratepayer you are subsidizing projects like the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers proposal and Petronas’ liquefied fracked gas plant at Lelu Island?

Wait, what? Why?

The BC government is offering handouts to the LNG industry in an attempt to lure companies to BC in adverse market conditions, and it’s us the taxpayers and hydro ratepayers who will be footing the bill. Watch this video to find out how your BC Hydro bill pays for handouts to international corporations.

This is a bad deal for BC. Not only would Kinder Morgan and Petronas destroy our climate and salmon habitat, not only would the $9-17 billion Site C dam flood some of the best agricultural land in BC and trample on First Nations treaty rights, but it’s you and me who are going to have to pay for it, for generations to come.

British Columbians need to know just how bad a deal we are being sold. Let’s get the word out.

Share this:

Facebooktwittermail Thanks to Corrina Keeling for producing this video!

These alarming increases in our hydro rates are because the BC government made a reckless gamble on liquefied fracked gas, against all odd and seemingly at any cost.

We’ve outlined how this is happening in a new report, Hydro Bill Madness: The BC Government Goes for Broke With Your Money.

The report shows the BC government is offering subsidies to LNG and fracking companies in the form of tax cuts, royalty credits, and below-cost power. Taxpayers and BC Hydro ratepayers could be left with the bill for hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

And because fracking and LNG require a lot of power, the BC government decided to build the Site C earth-fill dam, an expensive dam that is not needed for current electricity demands and that will contribute to escalating hydro rates for over 70 years.

It all adds up to a very big bill that British Columbians will have to pay, and it doesn’t end there. Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, if built, would be powered with subsidized energy at a cost to ratepayers of $27 million per year.

Each time you pay your hydro bill you’re giving a handout to international corporations.

It doesn’t need to be this way. Alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal create more enduring employment while providing a more flexible and cost effective avenue for addressing BC’s future energy needs.

We can choose a different future for our province and our hydro bills.

What can you do?

  • Share the video
  • Read and share the report
  • Ask your candidates where they stand on these issues and vote in the upcoming election on May 9.
  • Volunteer with Sierra Club BC to help more people learn about the environmental and economic impacts of LNG, fracking, Kinder Morgan and the Site C dam.
  • Donate to Sierra Club BC

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.

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.

Photo by Michael Beach.

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.”

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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