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Kinder Morgan will be stopped

Lisa Descary

November 23, 2017

Climate justice activists in BC celebrated the cancellation of the proposed Energy East Tar Sands pipeline this October. Although Justin Trudeau called it a “business decision” due to dropping oil prices, we knew that it was really a win for grassroots anti-pipeline activists, and we hope to see the Kinder Morgan (KM) Trans Mountain expansion pipeline befall the same fate.

When the Green/NDP provincial government was elected in BC, they stated that they would use “every tool in the toolbox” of the government to ensure that the Kinder Morgan pipeline would not be built. However, Indigenous and settler activists fighting tar sands pipelines realize that they can’t depend on the government or the legal system to stop these damaging projects.

The BCNDP, like other provincial NDP governments before them, are keen to show that they can be responsible stewards of the province, and are under a lot of pressure from business interests. This means that while they want to do the right thing and stop this pipeline, we need to ensure that there is equal or greater pressure from the social movements to ensure that they don’t cave in to right-wing forces. These forces are calling the KM expansoin project “in the national interest” and greatly exaggerating the number of jobs that would result, while minimizing the significant risks to the environment.

Of course, while the NDP and climate justice activists are expected to abide by the law, despite the cost to the environment, Kinder Morgan itself is breaking the law, and getting away with it. In August of this year, KM illegally used plastic snow fences laid along stream beds to prevent salmon from spawning where KM wished to begin construction. KM had no permits for laying these as yet untested and potentially damaging anti-spawning mats. This interference with fragile salmon populations went unnoticed by the National Energy Board (NEB) until a member of the community saw a post on KM’s own blog. Only after a complaint was made to the NEB was a stop-work order issued to KM. Since the NEB didn’t require KM to remove the anti-spawning mats from streams, fortunately some members of the Secwepemc nation have taken it upon themselves to remove the mats.

We know that Kinder Morgan can’t be trusted to follow the rules, and that popular resistance will be needed to stop the pipeline. Secwepemc activists are fighting the Kinder Morgan expansion in an innovative way. A group of Secwepemc and other activists called the Tiny House Warriors are building ten tiny houses in frontline communities in the path of the 518 km pipeline route on traditional unceded Secwepemc territory, to assert their jurisdiction and to block access to the pipeline. Likewise, the Kwantlen Nation is building a healing lodge in the path of the pipeline for the same reason.

Indigenous activists are definitely leading the fight against pipelines in BC, and their resolve and determination is inspiring. But those of us who are not Indigenous need to be more than just allies in this fight against tar sands expansion. We need to continue building a climate justice movement in the cities to complement and be in solidarity with the work being done in front line communities like that of the Secwepemc. Because it will take all of us to stop Kinder Morgan and fight for real climate justice.

To donate to the Tiny House Warriors, go to  

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