Despite approval this week from the Canadian government, widespread opposition from British Columbia Government along with citizens, indigenous tribes, and teachers in Canada and the United States may ensure the that controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion will never receive the approval it needs to finish construction.
Presently, only two of seven segments of the pipeline route have been fully approved and more than a quarter of the newest pipeline route has not been approved at all, according to the National Energy Board (NEB). There are still 536 permits under review and another 435 that have not been applied for.
“The reality is that whoever’s in power come October will have a really hard time building the pipeline,” said Tzeporah Berman, international program director at Stand.earth. “There will be more lawsuits, there is no approved final route, hundreds of permits are still needed and opposition in British Columbia and across Canada has not, and will not, let up.”
The Trans Mountain pipeline, which has been in use since the 1950s, had a capacity of 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day in 2013. The new expansions to the pipeline would nearly triple its capacity to 890,000 barrels per day.
The increased capacity would create a seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic, a serious implication for whale species off British Columbia. An analysis commissioned by the Raincoast Conservation Foundation found that the increase in tanker traffic gives the local Souther Resident Killer Whale population only a 50 percent chance of survival. Southern resident killer whales are extremely susceptible to noise pollution in their habitat already and an increase in tanker traffic would only exacerbate the problem.
The National Energy Board has been criticized on the review process for permits related to the pipeline after they eliminated oral cross-examination, excluded upstream climate change considerations, failed to consult with the First Nations along the pipeline route, and did not compel Kinder Morgan, the company behind the pipeline, to answer questions about the company’s oil spill response capacity.
“People across British Columbia do not want this pipeline built and will make sure it isn’t,” said Sonia Theroux, Co-Executive Director of Leadnow. “Tens of thousands of our members have made their views known, and we are ready to mobilize them to stop construction.”
The increase in tankers around Vancouver Harbor would also put at risk 98,000 coast-dependent jobs, tourism opportunities, and could affect the health of nearby residents.
“The science shows that increased fossil fuel production enabled by the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline will make it practically impossible for Canada to meet its climate commitments,” said Kirsten Zickfeld, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University.
“Any government that increases the capacity of a major oil pipeline and expands the oil sands in 2019 is a government that does not sincerely understand the climate emergency we are living in.”
The opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline is widespread and includes landowners, community and legal groups, the BC Teachers Federation, the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union, more than 150 First Nations and Tribes across Canada and the United States, and numerous environmental organizations.