What a difference a year makes. Many of the Liberal MPs from BC who won seats in the 2015 Canadian election were in ridings that are affected by the Kinder-Morgan – TransCanada pipeline approval. At that time most of those future MPs were telling voters they opposed the project, and that it would not go through. Trudeau told Canadians that any pipeline proposal would have to meet rigorous scientific and social criteria. None of those conditions have been met at all. (In the 2015 election the only pipeline the Liberals supported was the Keystone XL .)
Kinder Morgan did talk to some First Nations people, but little scientific evidence was offered to the National Energy Board and while the Northern Gateway project had far more rigorous conditions under Stephen Harper, and took ten years, this Liberal facade was done on the cheap within less than a year.
We live on the North Shore and often walk through Cates Park, across the inlet from the Burnaby facility of Kinder-Morgan. It’s less than a mile across. Many of our neighbours voted Liberal because of what the Liberal candidates told them in 2015. That betrayal will resonate in the 2019 Canadian election.
The Liberals held 2 seats in BC before the 2015 election : Joyce Murray and Hedy Fry. It’s likely the entire 17 will go down . The provincial NDP won the 2017 election because of this issue, as most of their gains were in seats around Burrard Inlet.
Canadian taxpayers are already on the hook for $1.5 billion that Trudeau promised BC to clean up any spills. Current plans call for facilities that are not close enough to be able to clean up Burrard Inlet within the critical day or less that is needed to contain spills.
While the economic flaws in the Kinder-Morgan proposal are under scrutiny – the business plans were based on the 2014 price of oil when it topped $100/barrel – the immediate issue is climate change. Extracting the tar from the sand requires a process that uses great quantities of water, and that process releases tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. It is Canada’s biggest polluter of air and water. We Canadians can afford to leave that bitumen in the ground because the people most affected by climate change will be those who have not caused it – the developing world. Their world may be one of drought, or flooding of their cities, while Canada and the northern U.S. will likely be warmer and more fertile.
For those not familiar with the issues, here are some talking points and links to other articles and publications.
1. It is impossible to clean up bitumen. It stays in the sand, or whatever it falls on. This is also why the Tar Sands pollute the ground water, rivers, lakes and air when the oil producers in Alberta are separating the tar-oil bitumen from the sand it has been stuck in for millions of years. That process also adds considerably to global warming. The projected expansion is equivalent to putting 34 million cars on the road.
2. There have been none of the scientific studies that Trudeau promised for all pipeline proposals, merely some feedback from a few First Nations groups who might be affected if pipes going through their territory fail. Most BC First Nations oppose the project. What the citizens in the Vancouver-Burnaby-North Vancouver areas are afraid of is if the tankers spill oil. Also, the number and size of those tankers in the very narrow and shallow Burrard Inlet, which is a recreational spot for locals, an area filled with wildlife and the destination for many of the 5 species of salmon runs. There will certainly be economic losses to recreational businesses in this area, which extends eastward to Port Moody and north up Indian Arm. Any spill will affect all those wilderness areas, the beaches, the waters, and most importantly the various salmon spawning rivers.
3. The rumour of thousands of jobs is misleading. The figure quoted is 15,000 but that is a very short-term period, a maximum of two years. There will be no long-time jobs other than for employees of Kinder-Morgan who already work there.
4. These projects are initiated by large, mainly US owned, corporations that cost $billions, which one way or another tax-payers will have to fork out for. So the actual economic benefit is minimal. These corporations are building all sorts of projects in the developing world that often bankrupt nations. The $millions in government royalties will never offset the cost of the pipeline. It’s a corporate scam. Canadians do not benefit. These projects are designed to benefit corporations. Period. Kinder-Morgan was founded by one of the executives at Enron, which fleeced California taxpayers $billions in energy bills before going bankrupt.
5. Although the price of oil went up recently when OPEC limited production of its members, the price necessary for the tar sands to be profitable is much higher. Will we see $100 a barrel again? Not for many years in all likelihood as there is still a glut of oil globally. The tar-oil sells for less than regular, clean oil. Economic experts have said that this project is based on the oil prices of 2014.
6. Trudeau’s MPs from Burnaby, Vancouver and North Vancouver were all against this pipeline. Many of them made promises to voters in the 2015 election. Some of those vocal and so-far courageous MPs are Burnaby-Seymour’s Terry Beech, Quadra’s Joyce Murray, long-time Liberal Hedy Fry, and Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam MP Ron McKinnon among others in the corridor surrounding Burrard Inlet from Port Moody, Burnaby on the south side to North and West Vancouver on the north, with Belcarra somewhere in between. Murray wrote that “cabinet’s decision to approve the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion project is very disappointing for me and for many in Vancouver Quadra and British Columbia.” She added that, “I’m concerned about the potential for an oil spill in our harbour or in the Georgia Strait and the impact that might have on southern resident killer whales”.
The Liberals have been breaking election promises in the last few months. The $10 billion deficit has ballooned to $30 billion. The projected 2019 year of being in the economic black has been moved up to 2050 – another 34 years of deficits. The First Nations have had little response to their promise of clean drinking water and other basic rights. The Liberals platform infrastructure program has yet to get into first gear. Now another of the Liberals major promise: that the 2015 election will be the last election with “First-past-the-post voting” has been unceremoniously axed. Are the Liberals purposely breaking these promises now, thinking we voters will forget this mendacity by election time? “Je me souviens” is on every licence plate in Quebec. It means “I remember.” Je me souviens will be on the majority of voters’ minds as the Liberals return to 50 seats in their 2019 election downfall.
7. The area close to the Kinder Morgan facilities includes various beaches which draw tourists and support local outdoor-recreational businesses. We already have scores of various tankers in the English Bay-Kitsilano area. The addition of seven-times as many oil tankers will mean more water pollution, more chance of another oil spill, like those around English Bay and Kitsilano beaches recently – glorious beaches where hundreds of thousands of people spend their summer days. More tanker traffic will be a curse to resident Orca whales who live in the south part of Georgia Strait. Both the increase in noise and added water pollution may have a devasting effect on an already diminishing pod. Any oil spill will be hazardous for this pod, which also boosts tourism in the Strait of Georgia (or Salish Sea, as we call it now).
8.Even if there are no oil spills, the costs of this project to taxpayers far outweigh any possible benefits, which will not kick in for several years anyway. By that time we will no longer be so dependent on oil and gas. The oil lobby, which includes companies that build pipelines for them, has set back renewable energy projects for decades, crying foul that climate change is some communist hoax.
9. Increasing production of the Alberta tar sands will also make it impossible for Canada to meet the Paris Accord that Justin Trudeau signed less than a year ago. And few are talking about the devastation of wilderness, lakes, rivers, ground water and its affects on wildlife and people in northern Alberta. The pollution up there is horrendous. It has caused the deaths of many First Nations people, ruined their ground water, the rivers, and has killed off both wild flora and fauna in an area larger than the British Isles.
10. If there is a moderate spill from tankers, then it affects tourism, beaches, fish, whales, oyster beds, and fish farms. The economic losses will far outweigh any benefits.
Our prime minister has been sucked in by the oil lobby groups and Trans Canada pipeline. He did not fulfill any of his election promises of scientific and social studies for pipelines. There has been little consulting with non-indigenous people. The mayors of Burnaby, Vancouver and Victoria are dead against it. Some of Trudeau’s BC MPs promised the electorate in their ridings that this project would not go through. Their seats are in jeopardy and will be up for grabs, with their credibility on the line if they vote for this insane idea.
A number of the Liberals, 17 MPs from the province, frankly acknowledged Wednesday that they’re disappointed with the decision, which they said is deeply unpopular with many of their constituents.
And at least one backbencher, Vancouver’s Hedy Fry, predicted the move will cost her votes in the next election.
Immediate reaction to the decision has been so fierce in (Joyce) Murray’s (Quadra) riding that she’s advised staff in her Vancouver office, who (she said) are “bearing the brunt of people’s anger and sense of betrayal and concern,” that they need to “protect their own well-being.”
Three years ago, a Wall Street analyst, Kevin Kaiser of Hedgeye Research, called Kinder Morgan a “house of cards,” claiming that the company’s bottom line looked healthy because they were skimping on maintenance costs.
The original “house of cards” was Enron where Kinder served as President and CO. Enron collapsed in the 2001 scandal over its questionable accounting methods. It begs the question: does any of Enron’s genetic makeup live on inside Kinder Morgan?
The new poll commissioned by an B.C. NGO and conducted by Insights West, said the majority opposed the project.
“If they think this is something that will blow over by the 2019 election, they are grossly under-estimating British Columbians,” Sophie Harrison, of Dogwood Initiative said.
Two Liberal MPs representing B.C. ridings have said their government doesn’t have the “social license” to approve the project. Earlier this month November, 2016), Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam MP Ron McKinnon sent a letter to Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr urging him not to approve the project.
Terry Beech, the Liberal MP for Burnaby North-Seymour, said this summer that his community doesn’t grant permission for the project to move forward, the Sun reported.
“In the coming days, we’ll be looking for more Liberal MPs in B.C. to follow Terry Beech and Ron McKinnon’s lead, speaking out on behalf of constituents who oppose this project,” said Sophie Harrison of the Dogwood Initiative.
Charlene Aleck of the Ts’simtelota, a spokesperson for the Sacred Trust initiative of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and the people of Burrard Inlet wrote to Trudeau:
“I implore you to please stop and take just one more moment to really consider how the decision that you make today will affect our children and grandchildren and generations to come. A generation is generally considered to be 25 years. A pipeline can last for 175 years or more. Building a pipeline today is not a short-term commitment. It locks in a way of life and the inherent dangers for many lifetimes.”
“We rejected the Kinder Morgan pipeline project under our laws because it violated the sacred trust we have with the water. The extensive scientific study that we commissioned, clearly demonstrated that the risks are just too great to accept.”
NOW magazine Toronto.
After the botched clean-up of a sunken tugboat’s 110,000 litre diesel spill off BC’s coast earlier this month (illustrates how easy it can be for oil spills, and how difficult, how long and expensive clean-up is.)
Oil Change International has pointed out that Kinder Morgan’s expansion plans would facilitate a major tar sands expansion equivalent to putting as many as 34 million new cars on the road.
Global energy demands are beginning to change, and there isn’t a place for more tar sands.
In the absence of a comprehensive national energy strategy, how can policy-makers effectively assess projects such as the Trans Mountain Pipeline?
How can Trudeau’s cabinet square approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline with its commitment to reconciliation with First Nations and to the UNDRIP principles of “free, prior, and informed consent?”
How can Canada be confident in its assessment of the project’s economic rewards and risks?
Leaked government reports confirm this finding, noting that new pipelines likely aren’t needed until at least 2025. In short, this means that these projects are purely future-looking—they’re about creating the means for significant industry expansion.
And with that expansion comes significant growth in carbon emissions. Canada’s emissions have been rising since 2009, so adding new tar sands emissions via construction of projects like Kinder Morgan’s will only exacerbate and magnify this already-substantial challenge.
Meanwhile, British Columbia has endured two massive failures in marine spill response over the last year. The first involved what should have been a relatively minor event in English Bay (in Vancouver), while the second involves an ongoing marine catastrophe off the shores of the Heiltsuk First Nation’s territory near Bella Bella.
Mayors such Burnaby’s Derek Corrigan disparaged the impartiality of the process, and Marc Eliesen, former CEO of BC Hydro, withdrew as a participant because he “came to the discouraging conclusion that the Board was on a predetermined course of action to recommend approval of the Project.”
Robyn Allan, a former senior economist for the B.C. Central Credit Union, charged in a recent letter to the Trudeau government that a biased regulator “designed the scope of its review so narrowly, restricted participation so profoundly, and removed essential features of quasi-judicial inquiry — such as cross examination — so completely,” that it pre-determined an outcome that favoured Kinder Morgan.
Thomas Gunton, director of the resource and environmental planning program at Simon Fraser University, told a ministerial panel reviewing the Kinder Morgan project that the NEB approval process failed on six accounts.
The NEB, for example, excluded full impacts on climate change such as offshore emissions and upstream emissions; failed to examine the full impact of diluted bitumen spills on B.C.’s coast; failed to assess the full economic need for the project; restricted the narrow review to “applied capacity”; and failed to access the full costs and benefits of the project in a volatile global oil market
As a result of the Kinder Morgan project, oil tanker traffic along the B.C. coast would increase from four or five a month to 34 tankers (per month).
The best science to date concludes that there is no established or competent method for cleaning up diluted bitumen once it has been spilled in any aquatic environment.
The tar sands produce among the world’s most costly oil, and are already the largest source of green-house gases in the nation.
Nearly 60 First Nations and 22 municipalities oppose the project, incuding the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby
Story & Photos ©Wildernesstravels 2016