'Betrayal': Trudeau Approves Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion
To widespread dismay, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau late Tuesday announced the government’s approval of the expansion of Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, which will transport tar sands oil from northern Alberta to the British Columbia coast.
“We’re going to stop Kinder Morgan by working together. This is everyone’s problem. Trudeau’s permits are worthless without our consent.”
—Rueben George, Tsleil-Waututh Nation
The decision was not unexpected, but it was swiftly met with loud condemnation and promises to block the project. Trudeau’s announcement galvanized Indigenous communities, environmentalists, activists, and politicians in B.C. and across Canada, who have long campaigned against the pipeline.
The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs has launched an opposition campaign, called Coast Protectors, to which 4,000 people have already pledged support, the organizers say.
North American tribes belonging to the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion have also vowed to block the project, which will carry 895,000 barrels of tar sands bitumen from the mines in Alberta to a terminal at Burrard Inlet in Burnaby, B.C.
“Let’s be clear, this is about our survival. This is about protecting our home, on Burrard Inlet and on the planet,” said Rueben George, Manager of the Sacred Trust Initiative of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation. “We’re going to stop Kinder Morgan by working together. This is everyone’s problem. Trudeau’s permits are worthless without our consent.”
“People are already standing up and fighting back, and that is only going to grow,” Sven Biggs, the energy and climate campaigner for Stand.earth, told the New York Times. “It’s going to be in the courts; it’s going to be in the streets; it’s also going to be at the ballot box.”
“I’m not surprised [by the government’s decision,] I’m sincerely disappointed,” said Charlene Aleck, a councillor with the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, to the CBC. “This is not just our backyard, this is literally in our kitchen.”
“It’s definitely the beginning of a long battle ahead for us,” Aleck added.
Local politicians in B.C. also condemned the federal government’s decision. Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said that he was “deeply disappointed and depressed.”
The decision, Corrigan said, “bows to the pressure of the oil lobbyists at the expense of Burnaby’s—and all of Canada’s—economy and environment, while ignoring the science-based evidence as to the harm this pipeline project will cause on land and water, even without a spill.”
“Prime Minister Trudeau said ‘Governments grant permits: ultimately only communities grant permission.’ We agree. He does not, however, have our permission and we will continue to make that clear,” Corrigan said.
Trudeau also announced approval for Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline project, which will increase the volume of tar sands crude transported each day to the U.S. Many environmentalists have decried the decision to increase fossil fuel infrastructure after Canada promised to cut emissions in the Paris climate accord.
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