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Kinder Morgan: we still say no!

Lisa Descary

July 25, 2017

With the election of the Green-NDP provincial government in BC, climate activists across the province celebrated what they hoped would be the beginning of the end for the hated Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project (KMX). As soon as he took office, premier-elect John Horgan explained that the Green-NDP government would “immediately employ every tool available to the new government to stop the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.” 

“We’re going to be consulting with the attorney general’s ministry, as well as energy and environment, to make sure permitting and other issues are exhaustively reviewed,” said Horgan.  Eugene Kung, a staff lawyer with the West Coast Environmental Law Association, explained that there are a number of legal “tools in the toolbox” for the new BC government to use to stall the project.

Oil executives and oily Liberals

However, Kinder Morgan executives were still quick to reassure investors that the project would go ahead on schedule, with plans to start clearing land in the Vancouver suburbs of Langley, Surrey, Coquitlam, Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Burnaby as early as the first week of September, with pipe shipments starting in late September, and actual pipeline construction to begin as soon as mid-October. (See the proposed construction schedule here.)

While Kinder Morgan is putting on a brave face for their investors, they know that the project is hardly a done deal, with huge opposition to the project coming from Indigenous and community activists. In fact, in a prospectus prepared by Kinder Morgan to attract investment, KM actually admits that the project could be delayed or even halted by popular opposition.

After the new BC government was sworn in, Justin Trudeau was quick to reassure his party’s friends in the business sector that KMX was still a sound investment, reiterating his support for the pipeline. Trudeau repeated his assertion that the pipeline project “is in the best interests of all Canadians” and his bizarre notion that “the KM pipeline…is being done as part of a pan-Canadian framework to fight climate change.” Nothing could be further from the truth: Trudeau ‘s “framework to fight climate change” appears to involve making promises that Canada would respect the Paris agreement carbon budget, and then expanding the tar sands anyway. As for pipelines being in people’s interests, it is a just transition to clean energy alternatives that is actually in the interests of the majority of people across Canada, not building pipelines that will only deepen climate catastrophe. But the NDP will be under enormous pressure to approve this and other fossil fuel projects, as the logic of capitalism dictates that they must maintain a “good business climate” in the province. It is up to working people to counteract that pressure.

Climate justice

Fortunately, Trudeau and his friends in the oil industry will find it harder than they think to push this pipeline project through. While Indigenous and climate justice activists celebrated the election of the new government, they are not waiting for the NDP and Greens to stop KMX: they are mobilizing to stop the project themselves.

Since last November, when more than 5,000 protestors marched for Jobs, Justice and the Climate in Vancouver, more than 20,000 people have signed the Coast Protectors’ pledge to stand beside the indigenous peoples whose territories would be traversed by KMX, and to do “whatever it takes” to stop the KMX pipeline.

The next step in this fight will be the mass rally called by Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver for 1pm, Saturday September 9, at the Vancouver Art Gallery. If you are in Metro Vancouver that day, please join us as we say, ‘Kinder Morgan, We Still Say No! People and Planet Before Pipelines and Profit!"


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