Monday, November 24, 2014

The Fight for Our Future on Barnaby Mountain

What a powerful image as these protesters attempt to stop Kinder Morgan's efforts to test drill for a proposed tunnel through Burnaby Mountain. Kinder Morgan wants to expand its Transmountain pipeline whichch stretches about 1,000 kilometres from Edmonton to Burnaby, transporting both crude oil and refined products to the west coast. The new pipeline would triple the carrying capacity of the current system, bringing 890,000 barrels per day of unrefined oil (an equivalent to 7 millions added cars on the road) to Burnaby for export via Burrard Inlet. Pipeline protesters have set up a blockade at the work site where surveying is being conducted. Kinder Morgan sought and won an injunction in B.C. Supreme Court to have the protesters removed.

Over 50 arrests have occurred since protests began in September of this year when Kinder Morgan workers cut down 13 trees in the conservation area for its survey work, which the city of Burnaby said contravened its municipal bylaws. There is a diverse group of protestors that include those who are concerned about an oil spill, the development of the tar sands and its effect on climate change, and a corporations right to access and use public lands. Furthermore, First Nations also claim that they have yet to be consulted on the project as the pipeline is proposed to cross their land.  

Many of the protesters are Burnaby residents, who don’t want the pipeline running through their backyards and have formed a group against the pipeline called BROKE or 
The Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion. The group says it is concerned about Kinder Morgan’s plan to ship three times more oil from the oilsands in Alberta, and are worried about the environmental impact in the event of a spill or leak. Kinder Morgan is suing BROKE for $5.4 million for trespassing on the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area. BROKE says the land is protected for the people by City of Burnaby bylaws and contend that Kinder Morgan is ignoring municipal bylaws. 

This current battle is one that needs to be fought all over the world if we ever hope to do the work necessary to significantly reduce our carbon emissions.  Big Oil has had its way in our world for a long time with profits in the hundreds of billions annually.  They corrupted the Canadian government which once led the way on climate change.  But that was before Transcanada and the Koch Brothers realized the incredible profitability of extracting the tar sand oil from the pristine Canadian Boreal Forest.  Yet, they never expected any resistance to pipelines which are necessary to carry the massive amounts of heavy, toxic sludge for processing and then to port for global consumption.  With the project landlocked, Transcanada is having a difficult time realizing the maximum potential of profitability and don't appreciate not getting their way.  

If you understand the science of a warming planet caused by man-made carbon emissions, then you understand why we must find a way to win these battles against Big Oil.  We are  nearing the tipping point for a planet that is sure to be two degrees warmer with a trajectory toward 5 to 6 degrees.  Such a future does not bode well for most of the species currently living on the planet and is sure to create immeasurable suffering and hardship for our grandchildren who will one day inherit our legacy. The good news is we still have a small window left open to make the Great Turning to a clean, renewable energy sources and that much of the technology and ingenuity is awaiting our investment.  Like the Whos of Whoville, the time is now to raise our voices together and get loud enough so our demands for a clean energy future are met!

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