Texas oil giant Kinder Morgan went ahead and started expanding its Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby this month, regardless of huge public opposition and regardless of the fact that they don't have nearly all the permits or permissions to build their proposed pipeline which would end at the terminal. While the future of the pipeline is hazy at best, there are two things that have been proven repeatedly from day one. First: Kinder Morgan is willing bully, lie and break laws on its way towards pipeline construction. Second: the growing movement against the pipeline has shown itself to be dogged and consistent in its continuing opposition. As Kinder Morgan falls behind on its construction deadlines, this becomes clearer every day.
Wondering what Kinder Morgan has been up to this month? Here's the short list:
- They began expansion of the Westridge Marine Terminal to allow for three oil tankers to be loaded at once instead of just one. A good indication of the relationship between Kinder Morgan and the surrounding community was the fact that the first thing they did was build giant, floating razer wire fences to surround their facility. Very friendly...
- The company was ordered to remove unapproved anti-salmon spawning mats they illegally placed in B.C. and Alberta rivers along the proposed pipeline route. The NEB told Trans Mountain the use of such installations “prior to approval of relevant conditions for commencement of construction and approval” of the pipeline was non-compliant.
- After submitting construction permits in Burnaby which by their own admissions were incomplete, Kinder Morgan complained to the National Energy Board (NEB) that the city's refusal to issue permits in less than 10 days raises "serious issues of jurisdiction." This was after Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson personally went to Burnaby City Hall to try and force the Mayor to force city staff to issue the permits.
The company says each month of delay results in as much as $35-million in costs and more than $90-million in forgone revenue for the company.
- Kinder Morgan has also ordered 300,000 tons of pipe without submitting the required quality management plan. They had promised to submit the completed documents by August 15, but by September had still not done so and ordered the pipe regardless.
Wondering what the movement was up to this month? Here's another short list:
- There were two well attended, “The People Vs. Kinder Morgan” rallies at the beginning and the end of 9 days of court proceedings by the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, Coldwater and Stk’emlupsemc Te Secwepemc Nations challenging Canadian government's approval of the pipeline. Over 600,000 has been crowdfunded to support this court case so far.
- Over 100 people staged a “Die-In” in front of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale's Burnaby office, which happens to be at the foot of Burnaby Moutain where the Kinder Morgan tank farm is located. The Burnaby Fire Department has opposed the expansion of the tank farm, as it puts over 35,000 SFU students and Burnaby Mountain residents in a deadly situation. With only one road up and down the mountain, a tank farm fire would trap them on top and “would create scenarios where fire containment is not possible.” The office locked it's doors and refused to receive a letter detailing the concerns.
- “Kayaktivists” and hundreds of supporters also temporarily stopped construction the the Westridge Marine Terminal by breaching the security zone surrounding a Kinder Morgan construction barge. Five kayakers were arrested by the RCMP, while indigenous leaders and support crews rallied on land. This action recieved extensive national and international news coverage.
- Meanwhile, construction of 10 Tiny Houses on Secwepemc territory continues on the path of the proposed pipeline, which would run over 500 km of Secwpemc Territory without the nation's consent. The houses are also being hooked to solar power thanks to cooperation with Lubicon Solar, an indigenous organized initiative which originally built a renewable energy installation that powers a health centre in the heart of the Alberta Tar Sands.
This is just the short list, and this is just over the month of October. Many more actions are planned for November, including another IntersACTION organized by the Climate Convergence Coalition in front of a downtown TD Bank branch. TD continues to be the largest funder of the proposed pipeline expansion.
Most Sides Are Clear, Some Sides Are Not
While the corporation and the community go head to head, the Federal government remains firmly in favour of the pipeline project while the provincial NDP has missed excellent opportunities to join and support community action to stop the pipeline. While they campaigned on a promise to do everything they could to stop the project, the BCNDP government took the unusual position of fighting the Squamish Nation in B.C. Supreme Court over the provincial certificate of approval the BC Liberals granted the pipeline. Environment Minister George Heyman justified this by saying the current government was somehow unable to oppose the certificate approved by the previous administration.
"When the NDP got into office, they were quite vocal about this issue," commented Squamish Chief Ian Campbell. "The response we are getting now is that they will challenge our position. It makes us wonder where the province stands.”
Keep On Keeping On
The lessons communities and organizers are learning over and over again are that regardless of provincial or federal government's positions (or non-positions) on the Kinder Morgan pipeline – the project will not be stopped without a mass movement of people. The stakes are too high to expect the corporation to step down any other way, and the consequences of continued Dirty Tar Sands extraction are to great for us to allow them to continue. We have been building a strong alliance of indigenous nations, students, poor and working people, and we must continue this important and necessary work. We must continue to say, “Kinder Morgan, We Still Say No! People and Planet Before Pipelines and Profit!”
Follow Thomas Davies on Twitter: @thomasdavies59
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