September is here and Texas oil giant Kinder Morgan is promising to start construction of its Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion any day now. The news is filled with conflicting media statements, legal opinions, and government jurisdiction claims. Within the uncertainty of the situation, there are a few simple truths we should remind ourselves of:
1. If built, the Kinder Morgan pipeline would revive the dirty Alberta tar sands for decades to come - making it impossible for Canada to meet even its modest climate commitments during a time when the international scientific consensus is that earth cannot afford for this to happen.
2. The only real guarantee we have is to stop this pipeline through the coordinated, mass action of poor, working and oppressed people.
With that in mind, and upcoming, “Kinder Morgan, We Still Say NO!” mass mobilization in Vancouver on September 9 is crucial in jumpstarting momentum as we head into what is sure to be some important upcoming months.
All Over the Place
As it stands now, the Federal Liberal government has approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the Alberta NDP government is doing everything it can to push it though, and the BC NDP government has promised to use “every tool” to “defend BC's interests”. So far this has meant they have said there will be “no shovels in the ground” on public land in B.C. until Kinder Morgan has met all of the requirements set out in the environmental certificate, several of which are related to outstanding consultations with indigenous nations.
The provincial government has also joined, in the relatively minor role of an “intervenor”, a Federal Court case which combines 19 separate lawsuits from indigenous nations, local governments and environmental organizations that are seeking to overturn the National Energy Board’s review process which approved the pipeline project.
Meanwhile grassroots organizing against the pipeline has shown explosive potential. When Kinder Morgan did some exploratory drilling on Burnaby Mountain in November of 2014, it turned into an intense month long standoff with more than 100 arrested and thousands more participating in round the clock protests during the cold winter. Kinder Morgan was eventually forced to retreat on court cases against protestors.
On November 19, 2016, leading up to the Federal government decision on Kinder Morgan, over 5000 people marched in Vancouver declaring, “No Consent No Pipeline!” They showed again the strength an diversity of the movement. This was also the launch of the Coast Protectors Pledge. Over 20,000 people have signed on to declare, “"With our voice, in the courts or the streets, on the water or the land. Whatever it takes, we will stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to be unable to come to Vancouver without protestors “welcoming” him, and the Climate Convergence Coalition has continued to organize well attended monthly protests in front of banks investing in the project.
The Secwepemc nation, whose land is the largest indigenous territory that the pipeline project is proposed to pass through, is building 10 tiny houses directly on the pipeline route as part of their ongoing resistance to the project which they have not consented to.
The Kwantlen Nation is also gearing up to build a Healing lodge in memory of Kwantlen ancestors who did not survive residential schools, 60's scoop, small pox epidemics and have gone missing and murdered. This will also be in the route of the pipeline.
Have we stopped the pipeline? Not yet, but this organizing has improved the balance of forces for poor, working and oppressed people. Kinder Morgan was forced to admit to investors that opposition to the pipeline is a major concern, and those buying shares should be willing to lose most or all of their investment. The organizing has been so broad and impactful that it has been impossible for Kinder Morgan, the Federal government and the mainstream media to marginalize and ignore.
Create Two, Three, Many Standing Rocks
The Standing Rock protest camp which rocked the world last began started as a small group of people in the middle of nowhere in North Dakota. It grew because of the urgency of the situation, with people fed up of being promised the prosperity of “trickle down” economics and inheriting nothing but poverty and a dying planet. These volatile conditions remain the same, and the movement against the Kinder Morgan pipeline is starting from a much more organized and developed place.
So September is upon us and there is a lot of work to do. The September 9, “Kinder Morgan We Still Say NO!” rally will be a crucial demonstration of the strength of the movement, but Kinder Morgan and Trudeau are not afraid of one big day of protest. What they are afraid of is people in motion together, organizing consistently and confronting them at every turn. We have been able to sustain the movement so far, but now especially is the time come together, and stay together, to stop this pipeline and create the sustainable world we all need.
Kinder Morgan, We Still Say No!
All Out for September 9, and Beyond!
Follow Thomas Davies on Twitter: @thomasdavies59
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