Kinder Morgan does not have consent to build pipeline
August 26, 2016
The federal Liberal government’s appointed panel has just completed its meetings on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The panel visited 11 municipalities and is due to submit a final report to Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr and cabinet by Nov. 1. What that report will look like, however, is fairly mysterious.
Dozens of speakers asked the panel, “How will my voice be reflected in your report? How will you capture the numerous arguments being presented to you?” Unfortunately, there were no clear answers.
Attending these meetings in B.C., one was struck by the strength of the opposition to this pipeline. Yet the panel dismissed the value of a clear assessment of those for and against. So our team recorded attendees and speakers who explicitly supported or opposed Kinder Morgan.
I can tell you, with exactness, that 90 per cent of British Columbians who participated in these public meetings rejected this proposal.
In addition, 21 municipalities, including the mayors of the largest cities in B.C., are opposed to this proposal. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson rejected this pipeline as not worth the risk: “The government of Canada is obligated to support projects that produce long-term growth and stable jobs. … By approving this pipeline, we are only setting up Canada for more market failure and an environmental tragedy.”
And, most critically, 17 First Nations spoke out against this proposal. In Chilliwack, Chief Ernie Crey of the Cheam First Nation spoke to the lack of nation-to-nation consultation during review of this pipeline, past and present: “The existing pipeline was approved in 1951 without any consultation with First Nations and no environmental assessment. … First Nations were forbidden to organize on land issues or hire legal council … and I fail to see how some things have changed from that era to the present.”
Instead of reporting on these facts, the panel claims they will look for “thematic similarities” and write their report accordingly. They were resolute that conviction for or against this project is not that important.
Our team followed the panel’s journey throughout B.C. to understand the concerns of public trust, accountability, and transparency, attending every meeting.
There were clear themes in the concerns expressed by the vast majority of speakers. Concerns about the lack of First Nations consent, the risks and costs imposed on municipal governments. Concerns were repeatedly expressed about the risk of oil spills from tankers, about the potential impact on the local economy, about species at risk like the orca whale, which would be significantly negatively impacted. And almost every single speaker opposed to this project spoke to their impatience with how these meetings were scheduled, structured, or recorded. They questioned the panel’s ability to review scientific evidence, to reconcile conflicting arguments, and to compile the thousands of submissions they have received within a timeline of mere months.
In the end, communities across B.C. implored the panel to send a clear message to our leaders in Ottawa: “This pipeline should have never seen the light of day. It’s the wrong project in the wrong place. … If you have listened over the last three days, you will know that this proud city of Burnaby does not give its consent,” said Burnaby resident Angelika Hackett.
While it is important that the panel’s report identify the key themes expressed at these meetings, the scale of opposition should also be clearly described to include the 21 municipalities, 17 First Nations, and the 90 per cent of speakers who took significant time from a work day in the middle of summer to present to the panel.
When asked about this pipeline proposal during the election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded that while governments grant permits, communities grant permission.
After these hearings, it’s quite clear: Kinder Morgan does not have consent to build their pipeline through B.C. communities.