Kinder Morgan began their TransMountain pipeline expansion last fall—without permits. The company quickly demonstrated their lack of care for the environment, when they illegally laid down plastic snow fencing in salmon streams to prevent spawning, in anticipation of work being done early this year. They received a letter from the National Energy Board which stated “The Board reminds Trans Mountain that construction of the pipeline shall not be undertaken until such time that Trans Mountain receives the applicable approvals…”
Now Kinder Morgan is preparing to upgrade their tank farm on Burnaby Mountain, and to add 3 new berths to their Westridge Marine Terminal. They have constructed a razor wire fence in Burrard Inlet to ensure kayaktivists cannot enter the area as we did in May 2016. Kinder Morgan plans to run the pipeline through a tunnel under Burnaby Mountain. In order to drill that tunnel, the trees must be cut by March 26th to avoid disturbing nesting birds, otherwise they will have to wait until fall.
BC government: ‘every legal tool in the toolbox’
Last summer the newly elected BC government promised to use every legal tool in the toolbox to prevent Kinder Morgan’s pipeline from being built. This included hiring the esteemed Thomas Berger, QC, as external counsel. Just this January, Premier Horgan announced a cap on diluted bitumen shipments through BC. This resulted in Alberta banning imports of BC wine. The BC government has now asked the courts to determine if BC has a constitutional right to protect Canada’s west coast. Alberta has stood down—no doubt they missed their BC wine!
15 legal challenges to federal approval
Last fall the Court of Appeal heard the oral arguments of 15 consolidated challenges to the federal approval of TransMountain. The case has the potential to overturn Trudeau’s pipeline decision. The Court heard from six First Nations, the cities of Burnaby and Vancouver, the Province of BC and two environmental organizations. The Court’s decision is expected sometime this spring, and could overturn the federal pipeline approval.
Peaceful direct actions building
Meanwhile peaceful direct actions have organically sprung up, from last fall’s Stop KM Flotilla, to Cloud Camp on Burnaby Mountain, to the Justin Trudeau Brigade. The JT Brigade has been blocking traffic heading into Kinder Morgan’s terminal daily, avoiding arrest by dispersing when the police arrive. A group from Victoria hosted a Pancakes not Pipelines morning in January.
And this weekend (Saturday March 10th) will see the launch of Kwekwecnewtxw (pronounced Kwu-kwe-ow-tukh), led by the elders and spiritual leaders from the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation. They are calling on as many people as possible to join in a historic launch to Protect the Inlet. A crew from Clayoquot Action will be there. Join us on the front lines of the decarbonization of the global economy! If you can’t make it yourself, please help spread our posts on social media.
Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action.