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Trans Mountain pipeline threatens ‘survival’ of B.C. First Nation, chief warns

As the deadline for the federal government’s decision on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline fast approaches, a B.C. First Nation along the project’s route is vowing direct action to stop construction for fear the pipeline could threaten its very survival.

Leaders of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation met with Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr early Monday, and told reporters afterward they think Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet is all but certain to approve the controversial project.

“[We are] still of the mind to say no to the expansion of Kinder Morgan,” Chief Maureen Thomas said. “For me, it means the survival of Tsleil-Waututh Nation for many years to come. When we make decisions, it is not for today, it is for tomorrow and the days to come. I find, with the federal government, the decisions they make are for today. We need to find a way to bring the two minds together.”

Cabinet must make a decision on the project on or before Dec. 19.

‘We’ll do what it takes to stop it’

Rueben George, the community’s spokesman, said a leak in the line could devastate Greater Vancouver’s water supply, and will produce few jobs for First Nations communities.

George raised the sceptre of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill — which was a massive tanker spill off the coast of Alaska, not a pipeline breach — as an example of what could happen if crude oil were to break out of the pipeline. He said the effects of that spill, which dumped in excess of 42 million litres of oil into the ocean, are still being felt.

Kinder Morgan has said it will adhere to the 157 condition imposed by the National Energy Board, including spill-mitigation plans. Trudeau has also announced a $1.5-billion ocean protection plan for responses to tanker and fuel spills in the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

George said the federal government has not adequately consulted with the community — despite Ottawa’s move to set up a ministerial review panel to study the pipeline, separate from the NEB’s 28-month long assessment process — and they are prepared to turn to the courts to block construction.

“We’ll do what it takes legally to stop it. We’ll do what it takes to stop it, period,” he said. “We’re taking a stand, that’s why we say no.”

George said that he did not want to see a Standing Rock-like series of protests in Canada, referencing the anti-pipeline crusade in North Dakota that has turned violent.

Pipeline Protest 20161119

A woman protests against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday Nov. 19, 2016, The federal government’s decision on whether to approve the proposal is expected Dec. 19. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press )

“I believe Canadians and the government wouldn’t want that. People are being shot, a lady’s arm was blown off. That’s something we want to avoid. People are getting really hurt down there every single day,” he said, while reiterating the community would do what it takes to stop Trans Mountain.

“It’s not too late to make the right decision for Canadians, not the one per cent.”

The pipeline’s backer, U.S.-based Kinder Morgan, has said the $6.8-billion expansion will create 15,000 jobs a year during construction, and a further 37,000 direct and indirect jobs for every year of operation.

The pipeline would also add capacity — some 890,000 barrels of oil a day — which would be a big boost to the fortunes of companies operating in Alberta’s oilsands, who have long called for the construction of a pipeline that reaches tide water. (Canadian producers have had to sell their oil at a discounted rate because the landlocked operations cannot fetch world prices.)

Decisions coming on two more projects

The government’s decision on Trans Mountain will come after it makes two other major calls on the pipeline file early this week: Enbridge’s Line 3 and Northern Gateway.

Line 3 has attracted considerably less attention, with fewer activists setting their sights on stopping the 1,659-kilometre project that would carry oil from a terminal near Hardisty, Alta., through northern Minnesota to Superior, Wis., the largest project in Enbridge’s history.

The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would carry diluted bitumen produced in Alberta’s oilsands along a 1,177-kilometre route to an export terminal in Kitimat, B.C.

Some First Nations in B.C.’s north are fervently opposed to this project, as it would carry oil from the pristine Great Bear rainforest. Others, including some 31 area First Nations communities, have formed the Aboriginal Equity Partners group, and collectively own a 33 per cent stake in the pipe.

Cabinet made its decision last Friday, but the results are not yet public.

Decision time for Northern Gateway and Line 31:13

Article source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trans-mountain-bc-pipeline-firstnations-1.3870838?cmp=rss