MLA Report: Pipeline expansion endangers environment

Project would mean more than 400 tankers every year passing right by our homes on the south Island

Christy Clark and the B.C.  Liberal government have failed to oppose Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion project. Their inaction puts B.C.’s coast at risk and is not in the best interests of British Columbians.

I am categorically opposed to this project. It is too risky for the environment and the economy. In this I stand with many people, including B.C. NDP leader John Horgan, the majority of British Columbians and the First Nations over whose land these pipelines will travel.

I am working to empower British Columbians to build a forward-looking economy. One that gains strength from the labour and creativity of our residents and is powered by renewable energy and the sustainable use of our natural resources.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion takes us in exactly the opposite direction. It is a project that endangers our environment and our economy, worsens climate change and damages relations with First Nations.

If the B.C. and federal Liberals get their way, this project will lead to a pipeline that crosses more than 500 rivers in the Fraser Valley watershed and increases tanker traffic sevenfold. There would be more than 400 tankers every year passing right by our homes on the south Island. And remember these tankers would be carrying diluted bitumen, an oil so thick, viscous and crude that any major spill would be impossible to fully clean and would cause tremendous damage to wildlife, our life-giving watersheds and natural places like Cordova Bay and Cadboro Bay. This plan would mean that on average every day there would be 890,000 barrels of oil moving past our beaches and coastline. Every day. The ecology of our coast and the Salish Sea as a whole is simply too precious and vulnerable for us to continue down this path.

The small but terribly damaging diesel spill in Bella Bella in October was a reminder that the weather on the open water in the strait can make it impossible to clean up oil spills and that the consequences of even a small spill can be catastrophic for people living nearby.

The economic impact of a major oil spill on the shores of Vancouver or Victoria could be epochal, potentially decimating our tourism industry for years, and putting tens of thousands of people out of work. More than 300,000 jobs in B.C. depend directly on a healthy coast.  Vancouver has estimated even trying to clean up a moderate spill would cost more than a billion dollars.

The Liberal’s Kinder Morgan plan is also completely irreconcilable with our climate change commitments. To start with, the diluted bitumen oil this pipeline will bring is from the Alberta tar sands, one of the most polluting sources of energy in Canada. Canada’s emissions have been rising since 2009. Adding new tar sands emissions will only exacerbate the enormous challenge we face with global warming.

This is a moment of truth for us all. Kinder Morgan plans to begin construction of the pipeline this fall. We must demand the B.C. Liberals stop favouring the petro-corporations that line their pockets and start protecting our environment and the long-term interests of all British Columbians.

Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals have not stepped up to defend our coast. But the B.C. NDP opposition has, and we will continue to do so.  Let’s demand a B.C. government that will defend our coast and advance a vibrant, forward-looking economy with good jobs and incomes.

Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South.


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