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No pipelines, no tankers, no problems!

The Carnival Marching Band was belting out tunes last Saturday as we began marching from City Hall. Five thousand people flooded the streets of Vancouver in advance of Prime Minister Trudeau’s decision on Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion plans. As we crossed the Cambie Street Bridge a massive chant rose up: “Hey hey, Trudeau, Kinder Morgan’s got to go!” It was exhilarating to be together with so many people who are determined to ensure that this pipeline is never built.

Coastal communities on the frontline
A Clayoquot Action contingent made our way down from Tofino to join this massive pipeline protest—because coastal communities like Tofino, Esowista, Ahousaht, and Hot Springs Cove are on the front lines. Long Beach is less than 50 kilometres from the proposed tanker route. This places Clayoquot Sound outside of K-M’s designated Enhanced Area of Response, which means if a spill were to occur, no assistance would be coming for the first 72 hours.

Last time there was an oil spill on the west coast of Vancouver Island, governments bickered about whose jurisdiction the cleanup was. Meanwhile, locals had to roll up their sleeves and start picking up dead and dying seabirds, and giant blobs of oil. The 1988 Nestucca spill was tiny—just 5,500 barrels of oil. Yet it killed 56,000 seabirds. The disaster was traumatic to live through, and its longterm social and economic impacts have never been measured.

Oil spills cannot be cleaned up
From the Nestucca to the 2015 spill in English Bay, and again this fall with the Nathan Stewart spill in Heiltsuk territory near Bella Bella, governments demonstrate again and again that they are completely unprepared to deal with an oil spill of any size. Imagine if Trudeau were to approve Kinder Morgan—there could be more than a super tanker per day carrying 1,000,000 barrels of oil under the Lions Gate and Ironworkers bridges in Vancouver. These tidal rapids are difficult to navigate, and more than one ship has hit the Second Narrows Bridge.

Tsleil-Watuth First Nations elder Amy George, who was arrested on Burnaby Mountain, spoke to the rally before the march last Saturday. She spoke of seeing her territories greatly diminished in the past half century, and her fears for what could happen if this pipeline expansion were allowed to proceed, saying “We cannot let that happen, we must not let that happen”.

Overseas markets pay less for bitumen
This fossil fuel infrastructure isn’t even needed. Former CIBC chief economist Jeff Rubin explained in the Globe & Mail recently why building Kinder Morgan’s pipeline will not solve Alberta’s economic woes: “…nowhere in the world does bitumen capture the price of conventional light oil. The oil sands crude is an inferior fuel requiring significantly more upgrading and refining before it can be converted into finished products…contrary to industry claims for desperately needed new pipelines to tidewater, overseas markets typically pay less for bitumen and other forms of heavy oil than the U.S. Gulf Coast, home to the world’s largest heavy-oil refinery hub.

One of Canada’s top energy experts, David Hughes, recently reached the same conclusion: “The assertion by politicians that tidewater access enabling overseas exports will somehow confer a significant price premium for Canadian oil is therefore not supported by the facts.”

No way to meet Paris commitments if oil production expands
In a recent report for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Hughes showed (using public data from Environment Canada and the National Energy Board) that there is no way Canada can meet its Paris climate commitments and expand oil production. He told the TheTyee.ca that “Maintaining the notion that only ever-expanded exports can rescue the Canadian economy ignores fundamental price realities as well as eliminates any chance that Canada will meet its emission-reduction targets under COP21.”

If Canada’s oil and gas emissions rise from 26 per cent of Canada’s total in 2014, to 45 per cent by 2030, as forecasted by the National Energy Board, the rest of the economy would be forced to contract its emissions by 47 per cent in order to meet promised greenhouse gas reduction targets.

He also found that no new pipelines are needed if Alberta keeps its promise to cap tar sands production at 100 megatonnes per year, concluding that “The additional pipelines being lobbied for by industry and governments are therefore not necessary.”

Take the pledge
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip spoke at the rally wrap-up at Library Square. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs has just launched a website where you can take a pledge to stop Kinder Morgan’s pipeline. Please take a moment to add your name to the growing number of people who will hold Trudeau accountable to the promises he made last year to work towards reconciliation with First Nations, to work for youth, and to protect the environment.

Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action.

MiningWatch heads into the Williams Lake court

Legal action over Mount Polley disaster

On October 18th, Clayoquot Action joined MiningWatch Canada in Williams Lake to support their launch of private prosecution against Imperial Metals and the BC government for the 2014 Mount Polley Mine disaster.

This legal action is supported by more than a dozen non-profit organizations including Wilderness Committee, Amnesty International, First Nations Women Advocating for Responsible Mining (FNWARM), Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake, Kamloops Area Preservation Association, and Sierra Club.

Largest mining disaster in Canadian history
The 25 million cubic metre spill near Likely was the largest in Canadian history. The sheer volume and velocity of the spill instantly killed fish, destroyed a 9 km section of Hazeltine Creek, filled both Polley and Quesnel Lakes with tons of toxic slurry mine waste, triggered drinking water bans, and significantly affected downstream livelihoods. Continue reading

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Big summer for wild salmon!

It was a big summer for wild salmon. Captain Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society donated their vessel, the R/V Martin Sheen, to BC biologist Alexandra Morton. Operation Virus Hunter was launched! The goal was to track farm salmon viruses and audit salmon farms along the Fraser wild salmon migration route.

Things ramped up in August when the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw chiefs (pictured above at a Vancouver rally) issued an eviction notice to all salmon farms in their territory, including Cermaq, the same Norwegian company operating in Clayoquot Sound. The Nation has been opposing salmon farms in their territory for decades. This summer Band Councillor Melissa Willie instructed by Chief Willie Moon to climb aboard a salmon farm to request a sample of the farm fish for testing. Their request was denied. Continue reading

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Mining threat looms over Kamloops

(Editor: Imperial Metals, of Mount Polley infamy, is considering two mines in Clayoquot Sound. If they ever actually apply for a mine development permit, the clock begins ticking—local communities would have 6 months to participate in an Environmental Assessment process, which in BC has never refused a mine permit. Clayoquot Action invited Kamloops resident Dr. Ross Friedman to describe her experience with the EA process.)

KGHM Ajax Mining Inc. (a Polish-owned corporation) wants to dig a huge, noisy, dusty open-pit copper and gold mine near Kamloops, BC, a city of 90,000 people. The mine would be within 1.4 kilometres of the nearest residences, and within 2 kilometres from the nearest elementary school. Continue reading

Tore Bongo presents Alexandra Morton petition to King of Norway

Alta reflections

The indigenous people of northern Europe are called Sami. They are known for herding reindeer on the tundra. What we learned while in Norway is that the coastal Sami culture centres on wild salmon, much like coastal Natives in what is now called British Columbia. These two species, with their predictable migration patterns, provided the protein on which a rich culture was founded—the Sami.

The Alta River in northern Norway is famous. The stretches downstream of Northern Europe’s biggest canyon teem with big salmon, and have been a mecca of sports fishing for many years. The reindeer herds also come to the banks of the headwaters to calve in the rich pastures.

A major dam on the Alta River?
Back in 1970, the Norwegian government announced plans to build a major hydroelectric dam on the Alta River. Questions about the reindeer, the wild salmon, or interference with Sami rights were not even considered. What became known as the Alta Controversy began as a conflict between the Sami and the Norwegian government. The Sami village of Masi was to be flooded, and people rightly feared extensive disruption of the environment. Eventually the resistance morphed into a People’s Movement which became a nationwide flashpoint for a growing awareness of the need to protect the environment and uphold indigenous rights. Continue reading

2016 Cermaq Millar Channel Farm

Mass die-off at Clayoquot farms

The call came in at the end of a busy day last week: ‘Cermaq is experiencing a mass die-off at two of their farms in Clayoquot Sound’. By early morning the next day we had assembled a volunteer boat driver and photographer, sourced a donated water taxi, and raised the funds to fuel the boat and hire a videographer complete with drone. We set off in anticipation.

The first farm we got to didn’t seem to have any unusual activity, other than the whole Herbert Inlet was a weird murky turquoise. An employee boated over to photograph us, and a polite exchange followed. ‘We’re not sure what this colour is’, he said. ‘We’ve been seeing it for six weeks—could be Chryso’ (shorthand for Chrysochromulina, a species of algae).

The second farm we reached was the Millar Channel farm, just kilometres north of the site evicted by Ahousaht First Nations, after it was occupied by the Yaakswiis Warriors last September. There was a hum of activity: workers tossing dead salmon into totes, which were lifted and dumped into semi-trailers designed to haul away animal remains. The tubes sucking the dead fish (morts) from the pens were getting plugged up with the sheer numbers, and divers were in the pens unplugging them. Continue reading

ClayoquotActionBlogKayaktivists.

People vs pipelines

When I heard the call-out for Break Free 2016!—a global day of action against fossil fuels—I knew we had to go. The plan was to surround Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, with marchers on land and ‘kayaktivists’ on the water.

Kayaking is the whole reason I am an activist—a 1990 circumnavigation of Vancouver Island shocked me into realizing how little old-growth forest was left, and that Clayoquot Sound is the Last Great Rainforest on Vancouver Island. This led to my involvement in organizing the Clayoquot Summer 1993 blockades—and the rest, as they say, is history. Continue reading

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BC Auditor General slams mining

Auditor General Carol Bellringer issued a scathing report after completing a two-year audit of mining regulation in British Columbia, writing “Almost all of our expectations for a robust compliance and enforcement program were not met. The compliance and enforcement activities of both the Ministry of Energy and Mines, and the Ministry of Environment are not set up to protect the province from environmental risks.”

Bellringer’s report identified water contamination as the major risk to the environment from mining activities. This is especially critical in British Columbia, where water often supports populations of wild salmon. While government enforcement has been declining, the risk can only increase as lower grade ore bodies are mined, creating larger quantities of waste rock, which must be stored safely in perpetuity. Continue reading

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Salmon farm slaughters 15 sea lions

Norwegian-owned Cermaq Canada conducted a marine mammal massacre at a Clayoquot Sound salmon farm last December. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) recently released their Authorized Marine Mammal Control Activities data, showing that between October and December 2015, fifteen California Sea Lions were shot by Cermaq at their Binns Island salmon farm. The wildlife was threatening Cermaq’s open-net pen facility. Continue reading

cermaq demo in oslo norway

Tide change in Norway

On the final day in Oslo, the Wild Salmon Delegation met with Cermaq, the Norwegian company with 15 salmon farm sites in Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. We visited Cermaq to share with them the reasons why the Delegation had come to Norway; and to discuss our perspective on the similarities and differences between British Columbia and Norway, the emerging consensus that open-net salmon farming is a dinosaur technology, and the tide change unfolding daily in major Norwegian media. Continue reading