In a move that galvanized community opposition, Kinder Morgan cut trees in the Burnaby Mountain conservation area without permission from the city in September. Citizens have held vigil on the mountain ever since to prevent the company from further work. Photo: flickr/Mark Klotz
The oil giants are using the jurisdictional argument to pursue the pillage and plunder of the environment. Our provincial and federal politicians have betrayed us on this front. This issue was front and centre in the municipal elections. Derek Corrigan (and the UBCM) are contesting the fact that higher levels of government are able to make decisions that have huge effects on municipalities while local governments have no jurisdictional power. Among other things, it’s a perfect argument for proportional representation. It’s also the reason civil disobedience is the only alternative people have to make their voices heard in a dysfunctional system. - Terry Robinson in response to commentary appended to John Vallant’s personal testament immediately below.
On Burnaby Mountain, confronting the gorilla
John Vaillant TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada November 22, 2014
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Kinder Morgan has been on my mind a lot lately and, when I woke up at four o’clock Friday morning, it was there, waiting: an 800-pound gorilla with greasy hair that lumbered across the border from Texas and is squatting now on Burnaby Mountain — close enough to crowd me out of bed. Gorillas are lousy sleeping companions at the best of times, and this one doesn’t sleep. Who has time when one’s stated goal is to ”continually leverage our large footprint of assets and actively pursue expansions, joint ventures and acquisitions so that we can further increase . . . distributions and . . . dividends.”
Kinder Morgan, whose lightning bolt logo appears to have been borrowed from the forehead of Harry Potter, is so good at leveraging its gorilla-sized ”footprint of assets” (and exploiting loopholes) that, in just 20 years, it has risen from the ashes of Enron to become not only the largest natural gas pipeline and storage operator in North America, but the largest independent transporter of refined petroleum products, and, according to its website, the largest transporter and marketer of CO2.
Today, the Houston-based multinational claims more than 11,000 employees and a ”combined enterprise value” of 125 billion dollars. In other words, Alberta’s oilsands, the Trans Mountain pipeline (publically held by BC Gas until 2005), and Canada in general, are little more than rounding errors in Kinder Morgan’s gargantuan scheme of things. This is the gorilla sitting on Vancouver’s doorstep, wanting to bore a hole through Burnaby Mountain.
No wonder I couldn’t sleep.
Finally, at 4:30 a.m., I got up, feeling like a small and impotent handwringer in dire need of some coffee. But I wasn’t the only one who was having trouble sleeping. Emails and Facebook posts, not half an hour old, were exhorting me to go to Burnaby Mountain where 26 protesters had been arrested, their camp dismantled, and drilling equipment trucked in during the night. Reinforcements were needed. There was talk of critical mass, invocations of Clayoquot Sound.
They say activism is born of discomfort and mine has been building for years — ever since Prime Minister Stephen Harper gutted the NEB’s regulatory process in that infamous omnibus bill; ever since hearing about Kinder Morgan’s plan to triple the Trans Mountain pipeline’s carrying capacity of diluted bitumen, every drop of which will pass through the most densely populated region in western Canada.
And for what? Currently, the Trans Mountain system generates profits of about 170 million dollars a year for Kinder Morgan, only about $1.5 million of which stays in Canada as tax revenue. All that toxic dilbit; all that risk to our water, land and air, and the benefit to B.C. won’t even pay for a house in Point Grey. Sexy, nine-figure promises have been made about post-expansion pipeline revenues, but why on Earth would anyone believe them after the bill of goods we’ve been sold by a prime minister who refuses to face the facts of climate change, and who indulges foreign oil companies like a colonial governor handing out fur concessions?
I am angry at the gorilla but I am angrier at the government that invited it into our home. On Friday morning, as I layered up and donned my raingear, I really believed that those 26 arrests, and the tireless, truth-to-power integrity of Burnaby’s mayor, Derek Corrigan in the face of the NEB’s sham and shambles of a consultation — not to mention the brazen temerity of a foreign company taking Canadians to court with SLAPP suits — would motivate a groundswell. I thought there would be hundreds of frustrated insomniacs up there, rain or no rain.
In the end, there were only about 50 of us, but what we lacked in quantity, was made up for in quality: the words spoken at the rain-sodden press conference that morning by a multi-generational group of tribal and community leaders were lucid, impassioned and damning of a deeply flawed process, and the eight subsequent arrests were models of choreographed restraint. Even when trucks were blockaded and police hauled people off, there was virtually none of the pushing, shoving and hurled abuse that marred the previous day of protests.
As I write, there is a drilling rig just down the road from the Horizon Restaurant, preparing to dig test holes six inches wide and 250 meters deep. But there is also the city of Burnaby’s pending legal challenge against Kinder Morgan’s work. And between them, peaceful and steadfast, are the citizens who remain on Burnaby Mountain, staring the gorilla in the eye.
David Suzuki’s grandson’s speech after his arrest for protesting Kinder Morgan (VIDEO)
Mychaylo Prystupa Vancouver Observer British Columbia Canada November 22, 2014
Tamo Campos at a rainy outdoor press conference at the base of Burnaby Mountain conservation park on Friday. Photo: Mychaylo Prystupa
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“I hadn’t had a speech planned, so I am just going to wing it. My name is Tamo, and I am David Suzuki’s grandson.”
Such were the opening remarks of 24-year-old Tamo Campos, during a rainy outdoor press conference at the foot of Burnaby Mountain conservation park on Friday, one day after he was arrested.
“What is radical? Is it radical to expand fossil fuel infrastructure in the midst of climate change?”
“Is it radical to use police force to quell public opinion, and public opposition?”
“It is not radical at all, and stand up and be arrested to unjust laws,” said Campos.
The young man was taken into custody for breaking an injunction granted to Texas-based Kinder Morgan, to protect its survey crews attempting to do geo-technical pipeline tests for a hoped-for Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
As of Saturday, Kinder Morgan crews are on Burnaby Mountain. Drilling equipment arrived at the work site Friday afternoon. The work requires drilling two six-inch test-holes, approximately 250 metres in depth. The work will be conducted 24 hours per day for 10 to 12 days.
The company said in a statement that it supports “the right to peacefully protest and believes individuals can express their views in the lawful assembly area, which is near one of the work sites, while allowing our workers to continue working safely.”
Collecting his thoughts, Campos centered on his core message for the array of TV cameras, and reporters:
“This is insane, why are we putting our economic system – the market – above the very ecology that we all depend upon? We’re more dependent on clean water, fresh air and clean soil, than the market! It’s the thing that keeps us alive!”
Pointing to the forest, he added:
“We have to stand up to unjust laws – to make those the laws, because those are the laws that have always governed our lives. And indigenous people have had natural laws that pre-date colonial laws by thousands of years, and we need to respect that.”
His famous 78-year-old grandfather wrote Camos a letter of support. David Suzuki is reportedly in Malaysia, though that is not confirmed.
“[My grandson} is doing what I would have done myself were it not a risk to my position as host of ‘The Nature of Things’ on CBC,” he wrote.
“The world is on a collision course with the things that keep us alive and healthy – the air, water, soil and variety of life. Corporations, especially those with head offices in some other part of the country or the world care little for the interests of local ecosystems or communities, except in so far as they interfere with the drive to maximize profit for shareholders.”
David Suzuki gives fiery speech on Burnaby Mountain to Kinder Morgan protesters (VIDEO)
Linda Solomon Wood and Mychaylo Prystupa Vancouver Observer British Columbia Canada November 23, 2014
David Suzuki at Kinder Morgan protest on Burnaby Mountain on Sunday. His grandson Tamo Campos is behind him to the left. Photo: Mychaylo Prystupa. Visit this page for its embedded and related links, photos and videos.
Legendary environmental leader David Suzuki walked up to a police line on Sunday that was defending Kinder Morgan drill crews on Burnaby Mountain at a protest gaining world-wide attention.
“I have nothing but great thoughts of the RCMP,” he yelled. Suzuki spoke about his own experience growing up in Japanese Canadian internment camps during the Second World War, and how police treated him at that time.
Moments earlier, Suzuki’s granddaughter Midori Campos and women from the Klabona Keepers, a group from the Tahltan Nation in northern B.C. — the same First Nation that pushed out Shell from its territories a few years ago — announced to the crowd that they were going to cross the police line. They crossed a wall of about 20 RCMP officers and were detained. Suzuki’s daughter, Tamiko, was present as well.
After the women were arrested, tension in the crowd rose. People screamed angrily, and shoved and pushed officers. Someone in the front of the crowd held up a large stand-up mirror sideways so that the RCMP officers could look at themselves.
Comments from the RCMP regarding Suzuki’s speech are pending.
According to an eyewitness, around a ‘dozen’ protesters were said to be taken in by police today, among them an 11-year-old girl and her mother. Yesterday, acclaimed author J.B. MacKinnon was arrested, while a retired schoolteacher was among those taken by police today.
“It’s mainstream thing. But it’s a clash between two world views. But unfortunately the one world view represented by Kinder Morgan is all-powerful economically and politically. People are desperate and need to put their bodies on line,” Suzuki said.
Below: Kei Baritugo is an accomplished communications professional with over 10 years of local, national and international experience in the arts & entertainment, and non-profit sectors. She is the founder and principal of BoldLove Communications.
Kinder Morgan pipeline protests continue after weekend of arrests
Kei Baritugo rabble.ca Canada November 24, 2014
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Over the weekend, the number of arrests on Burnaby Mountain has increased to over 50, as residents, concerned citizens and First Nations groups continue to protest against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
Among those arrested and charged with civil contempt are J. B. MacKinnon, bestselling author of The 100-Mile Diet; Tamo Campos, grandson of David Suzuki; and Professor Lynne Quarmby, chair of the molecular biology and biochemistry department at Simon Fraser University.
“Anyone who is educated on environmental issues understands why we’re out here,” says Quarmby, one of several Canadians facing a $5.6 million dollar lawsuit filed by Texas-based energy corporation Kinder Morgan after she publicly spoke against their proposed pipeline.
Unfortunately, there are many who do not understand why some are engaging in civil disobedience on Burnaby Mountain, which is unceded Coast Salish Territory. Those in favour of the pipeline expansion are calling protestors hypocrites for using vehicles and materials made possible by fossil fuels.
“It’s true that we live in a fossil fuel dependent society. We cannot function independent of fossil fuels because the options are not available to us but this doesn’t mean we cannot criticize the current system, which is causing irreparable harm to the environment. Calling concerned citizens ‘hypocrites’ is a cowardly way of silencing those who care about the future and the kind of environment our children are going to inherit,” said Quarmby.
“Everyone who is opposed to this pipeline believes there is a better way. We just landed a robot on a comet. We have incredible ingenuity, which tells me that we can come up with alternate ways of running our society,” she added.
Kinder Morgan illegally cut down 13 trees on the mountain prior to moving drilling equipment to the designated bore holes late Thursday night. Throughout the weekend, helicopters have been dropping supplies and more equipment onto the site, which has been cordoned off with yellow tape. Core samples from the drilling have now been shipped off, according to a Trans Mountain spokesperson.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan has publicly opposed the pipeline expansion. In a letter to residents this past October, Mayor Corrigan stated, “The damage done as a result of Kinder Morgan’s initial survey work has had far-reaching damaging effects on the Mountain. Further drilling and tunneling work would cause much greater irreparable damage to the conservation area.”
Over 70 per cent of Burnaby residents are opposed to the expansion project, which will transport more diluted bitumen between Strathcona County (near Edmonton) and Burnaby, subsequently bringing 34 additional tankers monthly through Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet and increasing the risk of catastrophic oil spills.
Burnaby residents are no strangers to oil spills. In 2007, the city suffered when 1,572 barrels of crude oil spilled in the area.
“Emergency evacuation of 250 Burnaby residents was required and 50 residential properties were affected. The spill entered the Burrard Inlet through a storm sewer and affected 1,200 metres of shoreline, impacting ecosystems and wildlife. The Transportation Safety Board ruled that the spill was the fault of Kinder Morgan and two contracting companies,” according to Mayor Corrigan.
Despite the grim health, ecological and financial impact of such an oil spill, Kinder Morgan continues to highlight the purported economic benefits of the pipeline. In their National Energy Board application last year, the company claimed that a positive effect of oil spills is job creation, stating “Spill response and cleanup creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions, and cleanup service providers.”
Kinder Morgan has yet to provide a comprehensive Emergency Response Plan that outlines protocols and responsibilities in the event of a spill, leak, fire or a natural disaster such as an earthquake wherein the pipeline ruptures.
According to a City of Burnaby fact sheet, the oil giant has not prepared a marine response plan that provides assistance, financial or otherwise, as “Kinder Morgan has no legal obligation to cleanup or pay for the cost of cleanup for spill incidents that occur within the Burrard Inlet once the oil tanker leaves the Westridge Marine Terminal.”
In a statement released on Thursday following the first arrests, Mayor Corrigan writes, “We are currently involved in provincial and federal court proceedings and will continue to seize every legal opportunity available to us in order to ensure that Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline, tank farm and loading docks are never built.”
Related: Canada’s petro-politics playing out on B.C.’s Burnaby Mountain
Carol Linnitt DeSmog Canada Canada November 22, 2014
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The way tensions between pipeline opponents and Kinder Morgan contractors have escalated during the last week should come as a surprise to no one.
The mishandling of the National Energy Board review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline and tanker proposal has created the conditions for the situation now unfolding on the mountainside.
And with the continuing loss of faith in these federal reviews — which even before being refigured to “expedite” energy proposals were already ill-equipped to grapple with the larger societal issues, such as climate change, related to energy proposals — we can expect to see more controversy across B.C. and likely along the route of TransCanada’s Energy East.
How did it come to this?
The act of proposing a pipeline is a legitimate thing to do in our society. Businesses should have the opportunity to pursue economic opportunities just as communities should have the opportunity to say no if a proposal doesn’t fit in with their long-term plans.
But with a government working in the interests of industry, citizens have been left out of the decision-making process, where the only way to register their voice is from behind the blockade line where they are marginalized, or worse, criminalized as radicals.
Our federal government is failing to lead on one of the biggest issues of our time. What Canada really needs is a grownup national conversation about an energy strategy that meets Canada’s international climate commitments. Until that happens, these debates will continue to play out dysfunctionally during technical review processes that were never designed to answer such large societal questions.
So as the saga of Burnaby Mountain continues to unfold, we should all be asking: who really is acting in the public interest?
Why Kinder Morgan relies on a civil injunction rather than criminal sanctions to punish protesters
Charlie Smith Georgia Straight British Columbia Canada November 24, 2014
Photo: Derrick O’Keefe. Visit this page for its embedded links.
As dozens of protesters see their lives upended as a result of being arrested for civil contempt, it’s worth turning attention to how these orders are issued.
In 1999, Amir Attaran, now an associate professor of law at the University of Ottawa, wrote a paper in the UBC Law Review offering an alternative to these “John Doe, Jane Doe and persons unknown” injunctions. [Click downloads above to read the article.]
These court orders often inflict greater penalties on protesters than Criminal Code charges for mischief, trespassing, or other offences connected to public protests.
Attaran wrote that an attorney general’s ministry document dating back to 1990 explained the Crown’s policy: “On occasion those involved in public demonstrations come into conflict with the law and obstruct or interfere with the rights of others. The use of criminal sanctions in these situations is generally not appropriate.”
Instead, the policy’s guidelines stated that where “a select group of individuals” are affected, “those individuals should generally be encouraged to apply for a civil injunction to stop the disobedience”.
“In the event the civil disobedience continues after an injunction is granted the party obtaining the injunction should be encouraged to proceed with civil contempt proceedings in the court in which the injunction was obtained,” the document stated.
This is precisely the road map that Kinder Morgan’s subsidiary, Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC, has taken. It applied for an injunction against five people as well as “John Doe, Jane Doe and persons unknown” to prevent them entering an area on Burnaby Mountain.
In the meantime, a company contracted by Kinder Morgan is conducting surveying work along a “preferred corridor” for a pipeline. This will involve cutting down trees, conducting soil surveys, and drilling to examine groundwater conditions.
Associate Chief Justice Austin Cullen granted the company’s application on November 14, concluding that cutting down trees “does not cause irreparable harm” to the defendants.
This means that anyone who violates the civil court order is subject to extremely harsh penalties, including lengthy imprisonment and large fines.
Attaran noted that police would not enforce the Criminal Code during these types of protests “except where there are ‘significant acts of violence or property damage’ “.
Moreover, “police will not arrest contemnors, except where a subsequent enforcement order of the Court directs them to do so.”
“Taken together, the Attorney General and RCMP policies create a regime in which public authorities foreclose the use of the Criminal Code offences relevant to civil disobedience and blockading—such as mischief, intimidation, breach of the peace, contempt, and so on—leaving only remedies in private law,” Attaran wrote. “To put it politely, this is a perverse way to administer justice, since the definitive feature of civil disobedience is that it is protest coupled with the wilful violation of law.”
As Attaran highlighted, protesters are willing to be “criminally stigmatized” to make their point, but the attorney general and the RCMP won’t allow this to happen.
“The problem is really that the Crown has abdicated its law enforcement duties with these policies,” Attaran wrote. “And that is exactly where an intelligent legal attack should be directed.”
Premier Clark missing in action as calls grow for independent pipeline review
Media release Dogwood Initiative British Columbia Canada November 24, 2014
BURNABY – Fresh polling in a BC Liberal-held riding adjacent to Kinder Morgan’s pipeline and tanker terminal reinforces a growing problem across the province: British Columbians have lost confidence in Ottawa’s crude oil pipeline approval process.
71 per cent of residents surveyed last week in Burnaby North support an independent review of the Kinder Morgan proposal, led by the provincial government. Today Dogwood Initiative is joining the call for B.C. to set up a pipeline assessment the public can trust.
“We’re facing a breakdown in public confidence,” said Kai Nagata, Energy & Democracy Director, “and it’s only getting worse.”
“You’ve got citizens being arrested every day for the last week on Burnaby Mountain. First Nations and municipalities are battling the National Energy Board in court. Intervenors in the Kinder Morgan review are quitting in frustration. This would not be happening if we had a fair, independent process – and right now only the B.C. government can provide that.”
The government of B.C. signed an equivalency agreement with Ottawa in 2010, agreeing to accept the National Energy Board’s decisions as its own. The drawbacks became clear in 2013, when Ottawa overruled the province’s formal rejection of Enbridge Northern Gateway and approved the project. In the case of Kinder Morgan, B.C. may exit the equivalency agreement at any time – but so far has chosen not to.
Last week the Quebec government announced its intention to hold an independent provincial review of TransCanada’s Energy East proposal. Ontario, too, wants an evaluation of that project’s economic and climate impacts – subjects the National Energy Board refuses to consider.
“No matter which side you’re cheering for, it’s impossible to enjoy a hockey game if you don’t trust the referee,” Nagata said.“It’s the same with these pipeline approvals. Ottawa has turned the Kinder Morgan review into a game, and most people watching agree the whole thing is rigged.”
Dogwood has launched a petition in support of a provincial review, available online at http://BCreview.ca. The move is already supported by the Union of BC Municipalities, both opposition parties in Victoria and the former head of BC Hydro, Marc Eliesen – who withdrew from the Kinder Morgan review earlier this month, calling the process a “farce”.
“It’s time for Premier Clark to step in,” Nagata said, “and it’s time for the MLA for Burnaby North, Richard Lee, to step up and represent his constituents. 71 per cent of them are calling for a provincial pipeline review and he’s completely silent on the issue. That’s just weak leadership.”
Dogwood Initiative is British Columbia’s largest nonpartisan citizen group, headquartered in Victoria. Polling was conducted for Dogwood by McAllister Opinion Research, a professional public opinion firm. Results are based on telephone survey of 300 residents of Burnaby North and are considered accurate to within 5.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.