People Power Stops Pipelines

by Lauren Reid

April 9, 2018

Yesterday, Kinder Morgan announced it is suspending work on all non-essential activities around the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, in a reaction to the widespread opposition to the project. What does this say about the strength of people power? Frankly, everything.

Dozens of Kinder Morgan opponents outside Kinder Morgan’s terminal gate in Burnaby, British-Columbia.

Something truly breathtaking happened this weekend.

In response to mass protest and sustained action against the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, the Texas-based company has announced it will stop spending money on the project until it can get assurance from Canadian regulators on its ability to build the pipeline through British Columbia.

Yes, you read that right.

Make no mistake — this is an incredible moment that illustrates, yet again, how people power can effectively stand up to an institution whose actions continue to threaten our water, Indigenous sovereignty, and human health.

The writing is on the wall, and even Kinder Morgan has seen it.

Since the beginning of March, thousands have protested the pipeline expansion, starting with a 10,000 person-strong march in support of Indigenous Peoples’ resistance against the project.

Since then, nearly 200 people have been arrested for peaceful, non-violent direct action by blockading the gates of Kinder Morgan’s construction site — including 2 members of Canada’s Parliament, and a former Trans Mountain employee, Romilly Cavanaugh.

Former Trans Mountain pipeline employee arrested blocking Kinder Morgan's gates

Romilly Cavanaugh, former Trans Mountain* environmental engineer arrested Tuesday:“I worked for Trans Mountain’s environmental department in the 1990s. If there is a tanker spill or spill from the pipeline itself, from Edmonton to Vancouver and down to Washington, the best Trans Mountain will be able to do, even today, is between 10 and 20% recovery.The rest will remain in the environment, damaging fish, birds, crabs – everything you can imagine. We lived and worked in fear when I worked for Trans Mountain, because the reality is that no amount of equipment or people is going to change the fact that in the event of a spill, they will be able to recover very little.”*Trans Mountain owned the pipeline until Kinder Morgan bought it in 2005. The pipeline is more than 60 years old and urgently needs replacement. The new pipeline will be new pipe for 950 of the total 1,050 kilometres – making a mockery of the euphemism "expansion".

Posted by Coast Protectors on Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Yet despite this victory today, the battle is far from over.

The Canadian government is still determined to push this project through in the name of “national interest, so now is the time to push back harder than ever. They may even go so far as to invest government funds into the project in order to get this pipeline built.

The problem is, if the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project is completed, it will trample the rights of Indigenous leaders protecting their sovereign lands and waters, and would bring a 700% increase in tanker traffic from the Kinder Morgan facility in British Columbia through the Salish Sea, which is predicted to impact the already-Endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.

And this won’t affect just Canada — an oil tanker superhighway could be opened for shipment of tar sands to refineries in Washington, Oregon, and California, as well as across the Pacific. Just one spill could cause catastrophic and lasting damage to the region. The reality is that tar sands spills are nearly impossible to clean up.

As the resistance in Canada grows, so have the voices of dissent in the United States, with more and more Americans speaking out against the Kinder Morgan pipeline, including Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

We must continue to encourage other West Coast governors to join Governor Inslee in heeding the call of Indigenous protectors and their allies — respect Indigenous sovereignty and recognizing the threat this project poses to the climate, marine life, and coastal livelihoods.

Terry's Climb

Meet Terry. This 70-year-old grandfather scaled and camped out in a tree directly in the proposed path of Kinder Morgan's – in his own words – "monstrosity of a pipeline." The threats of this pipeline to water, land, climate, and community are real. Add your name to #ProtectThePacific now >> http://act.gp/2GcSX40

Posted by Greenpeace Canada on Wednesday, March 21, 2018

 

It’s officially time to for Kinder Morgan to shelve this project for good. If yesterday’s announcement is any indication, now is the time to keep pushing. We must continue to stand united for what we believe in — it only makes us stronger. Help amplify this work on your social media through the #StopKM hashtag, and keep putting pressure on leaders along the Pacific coast to speak out against this expansion.

As for today, let’s celebrate the incredibly brave and courageous communities who have used the strength of their voices, bodies, and actions to put a temporary stop to this destructive pipeline.

Lauren Reid

By Lauren Reid

Lauren Reid is the Web Producer for Greenpeace USA. She first volunteered with Greenpeace on the Rainbow Warrior in 2015, for a campaign against overfishing and human rights abuses observed at sea. Lauren is currently based in New Orleans, LA and you can peep her on Twitter @Lo_Pickles.

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