BC says no to Trans Mountain, calls for credible federal environmental review grow

Intro

With British Columbia saying no to expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline, pressure is building for Canada’s federal leader to kick the questionable national review process to the curb. Yesterday, British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment formally rejected Kinder Morgan’s risky project for failing to meet the province’s safety conditions. The pipeline was supposed to funnel crude from the Alberta tar sands to a Pacific export terminal in British Columbia, yet the oil giant failed to provide an “adequate plan to prevent or respond to an oil spill” in the ocean. While this decision is welcomed by many, some environmental groups are hoping the momentum escalates at the federal level, and shines light on flaws within the pipeline review process. Prior to entering office, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s party campaigned on a platform of “moderniz[ing] the National Energy Board” to reflect “environmental science, community development, and Indigenous traditional knowledge.” As the federal government deliberates its next move on this high-emitting project as well as others like Energy East, grassroots organizers are giving the Prime Minister until January 15th to prove that he will keep his word or risk facing off with civil society for a “People’s Injunction.”

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Key Points

  • Canada’s federal energy review process broken. In previous years, the National Energy Board repeatedly disregarded the needs of the people they represent by moving forward on unwanted fossil fuel projects, while a number of oil executives were appointed to the tribunal regardless of conflicting interests. As a federal regulatory body, too many critical oversights has pushed people to perceive the NEB as an irrelevant process.
  • Pipelines devastate communities and wreak havoc on the environment. Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline would pump crude from Alberta’s tar sands all the way to British Columbia’s Pacific coast, without providing an effective strategy for managing an oil spill in the ocean. The Energy East pipeline, the other project under review by the NEB, risks generating up to 32 million tonnes of additional greenhouse gas emissions each year in Canada while cutting through First Nations communities and densely populated cities.
  • This issue is a key moment for Canada’s prime minister to deliver on his promise and make “environmental assessments credible again.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party made a clear promise while campaigning to introduce a new, fair process to review environmental impacts, which would only be deemed so if it “respect[s] the rights of those most affected, such as Indigenous communities.” If the Trudeau administration plans on restoring credibility to a broken system, the environmental assessment hearings scheduled for January 19 cannot go through as business-as-usual.

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  • “On the campaign trail, Prime Minister Trudeau promised the Kinder Morgan review would have to be redone completely, but so far the new government has made zero changes at the NEB. We’re hoping Ottawa steps in before the Harper-appointed board approves another flawed project on the basis of incomplete evidence.” – Kai Nagata, Energy & Democracy Director, Dogwood Initiative
  • “Any meaningful review has to investigate if energy projects will undermine Canada’s policy goals like promises made in Paris to cut carbon pollution. It also means listening to the best available science, such as the recent NAS study on the safety risks of diluted bitumen, which was excluded from the NEB’s review of the Kinder Morgan project. And it means ensuring that the crown fulfills its duty to consult First Nations affected by the project.” – Adam Scott, Climate and Energy Program Manager, Environmental Defence
  • “We applaud the B.C. government for listening to the concerns of First Nations and people across the province in refusing to support a project that would endanger thousands of jobs, coastal communities and any chance to live up to the demands of climate science. A tar sands spill off the coast would be catastrophic and almost impossible to cleanup. Since the Kinder Morgan pipeline does not have support from First Nations, municipal governments, the people of B.C. or the provincial government, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has no choice but to reject it once and for all. We hope this is his first step toward building the 100% clean and renewable energy future we need.” – Mike Hudema, Climate and Energy campaigner, Greenpeace Canada
  • “The BC government created a simple test that Kinder Morgan simply fails. The five conditions the Texas oil company must meet before BC will approve the Trans Mountain pipeline proposal are critical for protecting public safety, the health of Vancouver citizens, the rights of First Nations, and whale and other marine species. Despite the possible rubberstamp from the Harper NEB, the project can’t meet any of the five.” – Sven Biggs, campaign organizer, ForestEthics Advocacy
  • “Canadians must be able to trust that government will engage in appropriate regulatory oversight, including credible environmental assessments, and that it will respect the rights of those most affected, such as Indigenous communities. While governments grant permits for resource development, only communities can grant permission.” – Liberal party platform on environmental assessments

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