(Protest this past weekend in Vancouver against Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline proposal. The NEB approved the project Thursday with 157 conditions. Photo courtesy: Marlin Olynyk)
APTN National News
The decision by the National Energy Board (NEB) to approve the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project is a “call to arms” said the Grand Chief of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
Stewart Phillip is a well-known opponent of the project and was arrested in the fall of 2014 on Burnaby mountain for protesting Kinder Morgan and says he “absolutely, without question,” is willing to get arrested again.
“In many ways, yesterday’s NEB decision will represent a call to arms to the multitude of groups and organizations that are vehemently opposed the Trans Mountain pipeline proposal,” said Phillip. “It will serve to exasperate and escalate an already volatile situation with respect to the grave concerns people have in regard to a catastrophic tanker spill or a mainline rupture along the route.”
Although he’s disappointed in the approval that’s coupled with 157 conditions, he said he’s not the least bit surprised the project was given the go ahead. He calls the NEB process “irreparably and deeply flawed.”
“In many ways not only is the NEB process completely broken, it’s an absolute sham. And cannot be relied on to deliver responsible decisions with respect to large scale development projects,” he said.
Claims that expansion of the pipeline to load more oil to the west coast will benefit the country are a farce, he added.
“I want to make something abundantly clear here…the NEB declared this is in the national public interest. I find that to be complete hypocrisy given the enormous public opposition to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline proposal,” he said.
“Let’s be clear, it’s not just Indigenous people’s that are opposed to this project; the City of Vancouver is opposed, the City of Burnaby is opposed, there’s a multitude of environmental conservation organizations that are opposed. The vast majority of the general public have publicized their opposition to this project. The public that the NEB in its self-serving way is catering to is the oil industry and its crony’s in government. It’s a very small interest group,” said Phillip.
He said proponents interests were bought and paid for and taken into consideration, however the review process didn’t provide a process for cross examination and was highly restrictive for opponents of the project.
Phillip met one on one in a heated meeting with Natural Resource Minister Jim Carr to bring forward concerns, but said it didn’t go over well.
“He sat there and he kept repeating the need to grow the economy. And he really wasn’t the least bit interested in talking about environmental considerations and the water.”
“The panel members reflect the experience, perspective and understanding of local issues and relationships needed to advise the government as we advance the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project to a final decision in December,” said Minister Carr in an online statement. “
Phillip is leery of the new panel because he said one of its members has close ties with Kinder Morgan.
“I don’t know who the other two members are but I do know that the former chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation, Kim Baird is a member. She entered into a contractual arrangement with Kinder Morgan with Ian Anderson (president of Kinder Morgan) himself. She was taken into Kinder Morgan’s House for a year. I believe it to be a conflict of interest,” he said.
It’s now up to the Trudeau government to make the final decision in December and Phillip said it’s time for Trudeau to “walk his walk.”
“I think he’s in an incredibly difficult place having made those significant commitments to Indigenous Peoples of this country. Without question we expect him to walk the walk…Eloquent public platitudes are not adequate to address the grave concerns we have about the need to protect the natural environment and the constitutional and legal interest of First Nations,” said Phillip.
Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Lubicon Cree First Nation member and Greenpeace Canada Climate and Energy Campaigner agrees.
“If Canada wants to be a leader on climate, you don’t approve more pipelines, just look at the fires burning out of control in Fort Mac right now- that can be attributed to climate change,” said Laboucan-Massimo.
With the federal government’s recent statements in New York at the United Nations to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) she is hoping the government will stand by their word. There are 17 First Nations in B.C. and Alberta opposed to the pipeline expansion.
“I’d ask him (Trudeau) to actually adhere to and uphold what he committed to in his campaign trail (to Indigenous Peoples). My worry is that he’s obviously saying a lot of things…we’ll see if he will follow through with his words with action. How they will actually take into account the recommendations despite the fact that this would violate the UNDRIP – (due to) free prior and informed consent and the right to say no.”
Last weekend Laboucan-Massimo attended a rally in Vancouver that blocked the entrances to the Kinder Morgan offices and saw hundreds of people attend in protest against the development.
For her, it’s about addressing the bigger issue, climate change, in which each pipeline plays a part in further provoking.
“My hope is that they’ll (government/industry) actually listen to people but also listen to science. Climate scientists are telling us that we can’t continue to burn fossil fuels. If the Trudeau government in Paris committed to a 1.5 scenario, which would keep global temperatures below 1.5- then building a pipeline like this will keep us locked into a carbon intensive future. It’s a contradiction in so many ways. If they want to continue to build reconciliation and respect with Indigenous peoples in their own homelands, it’s all about listening to the opposition and respecting the UNDRIP.”