It has been one year exactly since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Federal government's approval of the Kinder Morgan and Line 3 oil pipelines. In the last 365 days they are unable to present any plan showing how these projects can be built and still meet Canada's lacklustre United Nations climate commitments. Kinder Morgan is also unable to prove that it is anything other than a money-hungry oil giant willing to bully its way through construction. Meanwhile, the opposition and protests to the Kinder Morgan pipeline have proven that we are not going away any time soon!
Their Numbers Don't Add Up
The math remains the same this year as it was last year. The Kinder Morgan pipeline would add 100 megatonnes and Line 3 another 90 megatonnes of global warming causing carbon dioxide emissions. This makes it impossible for Canada to achieve its already lacklustre commitment to reduce national emissions 200 megatonnes by 2030.
Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, recently called out Canada and the absurdity that it is doing even worse than the U.S. on reducing emissions.
"It's a bit of a paradox, here," Gurria told the Canadian Press. "In Canada, you have a situation where you have a very strong political will to reduce, but effectively it has not gone on the planned road.
In the United States, you have a government that has pulled out of the (Paris) agreement, but in the United States you are having a reduction in emissions."
Maybe because the political will of the government of Canada does not match its exaggerated promises?
As Grand Chief Stewart Phillip wrote when Trudeau originally announced the pipeline approval, “You also must have known that allowing two pipelines to carry over a million barrels a day of additional tar sands production is not the way we are going to solve the climate crisis. No one could truly believe that more oil will help us get off oil. It’s too ludicrous to even contemplate.”
Oil Spill Catastrophe
There's the overall planetary crisis of climate change, but also the very real and inevitable issue of oil spills either on land or sea. Kinder Morgan's environmental record is ridiculous. A report by environmental advocacy group Stand.earth documented that Kinder-Morgan has been responsible for least 1,800 oil and chemical spill violations since its incorporation in 1997. That's almost two every week for 20 years!
This month at least 200,000 gallons of oil leaked out of TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline in South Dakota. Kent Moeckly, a nearby land owner and member of the Dakota Rural Action Group, summed up the situation, “TransCanada thought it was 200,000 gallons. What we found out working with TransCanada, it could very well be 600,000 gallons.”
A recent Maclean's magazine article, “A B.C. pipeline spill would be inevitable. But Who Would Pay?” details some alarming realities. The Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill in Alaska released 260,000 barrels of oil into the North Pacific in March 1989, contaminating a 2,000 km stretch of coastline. The cost of cleanup for Exxon was $6.3 billion (USD) when adjusted for inflation. They were ordered to pay another $5 billion in punitive damages, but after 14 court cases, it was forced that down to $507.5 million.
The supertankers that Kinder Morgan wants loaded at the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby would each carry about 575,000 barrels of oil - more than double the Exxon Valdez spill. They also want to increase tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet more than 7 times - from five tankers a month to 34.
Who Will Pay?
In the event of an oil spill, Kinder Morgan has committed to only comply with the minimum federal requirements, which stipulate they must have a $1 billion available to cover liabilities related to a land spill. However, if a tanker were to have a spill in the Burrard Inlet or Vancouver Harbour, the vessel owner would be held responsible and expected to pay a maximum of $1.36 billion.
This is obviously peanuts compared to what is necessary. As Maclean's reported, “The Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill on the Gulf Coast in 2010 cost British Petroleum a total of US$62 billion. BP, whose net worth is about $100 billion, paid the full cost out of pocket. Kinder Morgan has nowhere near the financial resources of BP.” Most likely we will be stuck with the consequences of a contaminated coastline and spending the billions of dollars required to clean up.
Remember who paid the bill when all the massive corporations were in crisis in 2008? We did. Through government bailouts using our tax dollars.
So far Kinder Morgan has been stalled and frustrated in starting construction, but they have started expanding their marine terminal behind newly installed massive floating fences topped with razor wire. Meanwhile the cities of Burnaby and Langley have still not approved construction permits despite Kinder Morgan's bullying, and their illegal anti-salmon spawning nets in BC rivers were removed by activists.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Kinder Morgan CEO Ian Anderson, and Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr, have all had their recent speeches in Vancouver interrupted by activists, and protests at different Kinder Morgan sites are now at least a weekly occurrence. The Climate Convergence Coalition and many other groups have also targeted the TD Bank, which is the largest investor in the Kinder Morgan pipeline with over $700 million committed. The Secwepmec Nation has completed three of ten tiny houses to be placed on their traditional territories where the pipeline would cross, and a recent Climate Convergence fundraiser helped raise money towards the Kwantlen Nation's project to build a Healing Lodge, also on the path of the pipeline proposal.
In short, the local and international consequences of the pipeline are too much and people are responding accordingly. Kinder Morgan has said it costs $30-35 million for every month the pipeline is delayed, and that they lose an additional $90 million in profits. They are fighting for super-profits that benefit a tiny minority. We are fighting for a planet that is necessary for everybody. That's why we must continue to educate, organize, and mobilize to defeat the Kinder Morgan pipeline!
Follow Thomas Davies on Twitter: @thomasdavies59
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