Our Canadian Pacific coast is a beautiful and diverse ecosystem teeming with life. From iconic schools of spawning sockeye salmon to majestic killer whales, the coastline of British Columbia is a treasure that belongs to all of us. Into this idyllic picture steps Texan oil pipeline company Kinder Morgan, with its proposal to ship massive amounts of tar sands oil across BC to a terminal in Burnaby. Opposition to the proposal is widespread – and growing by the day. We won’t stand by and let this special place become synonymous with climate change, and be put at risk of a catastrophic oil spill.
Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline proposal
For decades, the Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby has provided most of the oil we use in BC. But in 2005, Kinder Morgan bought the pipeline with the goal of transforming the surrounding waters of the Burrard Inlet and Salish Sea into a major tar sands shipping port.
Very quietly in 2007, around the same time the pipeline was accidentally ruptured and leaked into the inlet, a risk assessment panel made up of industry insiders began the process of allowing bigger tankers in our waters. In 2008, the TMX-1 project increased the pipeline's capacity by 50,000 barrels a day to increase exports. Despite the fact that our Pacific coast is now increasingly threatened by a major oil spill, there was no public process or debate in the House of Commons or anywhere else.
As we were all still reeling from the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, little did we know that every week one or two tankers were passing through the Burrard Inlet carrying up to 600,000 barrels of oil. As if that weren't bad enough, now Kinder Morgan wants to build a new pipeline and increase the system’s capacity to 890,000 barrels a day – which means over 400 giant tar sands tankers a year moving through our inlet.
When all that tar sands oil is burned, it will release more than 100 million tonnes of climate-changing greenhouse gases into our atmosphere every year.
For more information on the proposal and on Kinder Morgan's safety track record, see our FAQ page.
Kinder Morgan’s pipeline and tanker plans are opposed by many First Nations whose traditional territories are crossed by the proposed route, including Coast Salish First Nations and Tribes from both sides of the Canada-U.S. border who have come together to “Protect the Sacredness of the Salish Sea.”
The National Energy Board review process
The decision as to whether or not Kinder Morgan’s giant new pipeline will be built rests with the National Energy Board (NEB), Canada’s federal energy regulator, and with federal cabinet ministers in Ottawa. In July 2014, the NEB announced that it was “stopping the clock” on its review of the company’s proposed pipeline, which will delay the NEB’s final recommendation – and the ultimate federal cabinet decision – until 2016.
The delay is due to the fact that Kinder Morgan changed a portion of its “preferred route” for the new pipeline after it filed its application to the NEB in December 2013. The NEB is providing the extra time so that Kinder Morgan can carry out additional studies on the new route, which involves tunneling through Burnaby Mountain.
There is no doubt that major flaws exist in the NEB review process: there won’t be any in-person cross-examination of the evidence presented, Kinder Morgan has failed to adequately answer the questions intervenors have been asking and the project’s climate impacts have been barred from the official discussion.
The existing pipeline is shown in yellow, the proposed preferred new pipeline corridor route is shown in red and alternate routes being considered in light purple. The exact final route has not been completely decided, and is based on maps submitted in Kinder Morgan's application to the National Energy Board in December 2013. This map was updated in August 2014 with "revised" corridor route sections shown in orange through Burnaby (including Burnaby Mountain), Coquitlam, Langley and minor revisions through Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Hope. Also shown in dark green are BC parks that will be potentially impacted by the new Kinder Morgan pipeline (according to BC government documents), and in light green other parks that may be potentially impacted by the pipeline. You can toggle the legend, zoom in or change the basemap imagery with the buttons across the top. You can pan around map by clicking on map and dragging with your mouse. Click 'View Larger Map' below map to open the map in ArcGIS Online map viewer.
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What’s in Kinder Morgan’s pipeline? The low-down on tar sands oil
Canada’s tar sands are the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. All Canadians are impacted by the tar sands, regardless of where you live in the country.
In Alberta, vast areas of boreal forest have been cleared to make way for this heavy industry. If you live downstream, your water may be polluted with toxins, and your fish and wildlife may be dangerous to eat. In Saskatchewan, you may be impacted by acid rain caused by tar sands pollution. In Ontario, you may be exposed to harmful emissions from the refining of tar sands oil.
In BC, Kinder Morgan’s massive new pipeline could soon cross through communities, parks and hundreds of rivers and streams, leaving them at risk to toxic spills, breaches and ruptures – not to mention the threat of a marine oil spill due to the unprecedented number of tankers plying coastal waters. BC’s northern coast and communities also face similar threats as a result of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, an extremely controversial project that was granted approval by the federal government in June 2014. Read more about the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline >>
Most importantly, no matter where you live in Canada, your desire to tackle the global climate crisis is being held hostage by the tar sands.
Instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the federal government continues to support the expansion of the tar sands – the country's dirtiest and most carbon-intensive industry. Additionally, because Canada’s elected officials refuse to clamp down on tar sands operators, they also refuse to clamp down on other greenhouse gas-producing industries across Canada for fear of a double standard.
We need real action to fight pollution and the climate crisis. It’s time for our governments to phase out the tar sands. Click here for more information and maps of the tar sands >>