Fossil fuel expansion makes no sense

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By JAN SLAKOV

What do we make of Alberta premier Rachel Notley’s statement, in the lead up to the premier’s meeting: “My only priority is to get the pipeline built”?

It symbolizes what “protectors” are up against with the pipeline touted as an end in itself, regardless of its real costs.

So much about the Kinder Morgan (KM) project is being ignored in mainstream media, such as:

Democracy Concerns

• The Harper government gutted environmental laws, resulting in an assessment that “denied procedural fairness [leaving the NEB with] a pile of worthless assertions, untested as evidence.” (Elizabeth May)

• Former leader of the official opposition in Alberta, Kevin Taft, author of Oil’s Deep State, wonders how Notley became a “big oil crusader.” “Rachel Notley may be in office but the oil industry is in power,” he said.

Economic Concerns

• Andrew Nikiforuk: “KM simply wants to walk away from an unviable project whose costs have ballooned from $5.4 billion to more than $7.4 billion.”

• Lawyer Eugene Kung: “The economic case for getting oil [actually dilbit] to tidewater by pipeline in Canada has evaporated.”

  Journalist Bruce Livesey argues we are less dependent on the oil industry than we are led to believe. It “generates minimal tax revenue [with Canada imposing taxes] that are a fraction of taxes imposed on the same companies in countries like Nigeria, Indonesia and the Ivory Coast. In Alberta, the province collects more in taxes from gaming and alcohol sales than it does from oil royalties.”

• Dr. T. Hancock, of UVic’s school of public health and social policy: “A wise government would be investing in energy conservation [. . .] and in clean and renewable energy systems. This is the health-enhancing, job-creating economy of the future, not fossil fuels.”

Dissing Indigenous Rights

• The National Observer uncovered evidence that the federal government “instructed public servants . . . to approve the oil pipeline, several weeks before the government had concluded its consultations with First Nations.”

• In a letter to “Justin and Rachel” in Focus Magazine, author Briony Penn explains how assertions of strong First Nations support for the expansion are hollow.

• Nan Gregory committed civil disobedience to “stand up for a just and honourable reconciliation.” “If government and industry continue with their business-as-usual agenda laying pipelines across disputed territories, would that not render inconsequential potential Supreme Court rulings on current cases regarding Indigenous sovereignty and land claims? Is this not contempt of court writ large?”

Ecological Irresponsibility

• 236 groups from 44 countries have written to Prime Minister Trudeau: “Climate leaders cannot expand major fossil fuel expansion.”

• Even evidence submitted by Kinder Morgan shows “increased tanker traffic in the Salish Sea will place the orcas at a high risk of a population decline.”

• Former Premier Gordon Campbell’s chief of staff, Martyn Brown: “Environment and Climate Change Canada found that the ‘twinned’ Trans Mountain pipeline stands to generate 21 to 26 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) every year in associated upstream greenhouse gases . . . That is indeed a climate crime against future generations.”

Fossil fuel companies deliberately hid the truth about the climate consequences of their actions; they ought to be paying reparations instead of using their money to lobby and bully us into submission. Our democracy has been undermined, but we can’t give up. Let’s follow the example of Martin Luther King, Jr. who lived in the conviction that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

The writer was supported in this piece by fellow Salt Spring residents Ronald Ada, Peter Lamb, Sandra Leckie, Jo Logan, Tom Mitchell, Marcelle Roy and Jean Wilkinson.

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