Mon, Mar 12, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Thousands march against pipeline expansion project

AP, BURNABY, British Columbia

Indigenous leaders and environmentalists march against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline project in Burnaby, British Columbia, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

Thousands of demonstrators marched on Saturday to speak out against a pipeline expansion project that would nearly triple the flow of oil from Canada’s tar sands to the Pacific Coast.

Indigenous leaders led the march in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby after telling the crowd that the day’s event was a celebration of unity, but they should be prepared in the future to “cross the line”with potential arrests.

“Our spiritual leaders today are going to claim back Burnaby Mountain,” Rueben George, a member of Tsleil-Waututh Nation, said before the crowd marched to the steady beat of drums and chants toward a site near Kinder Morgan’s storage tank farm in Burnaby.

Many protesters carried signs that read, “Water is life,” “No consent, no pipeline” and “Keep it in the ground.” Others hoisted inflatable orcas and beat drums.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion by the Canadian division of Texas-based Kinder Morgan would dramatically increase the number of oil tankers traveling the shared waters between Canada and Washington state in the US.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the project in late 2016, saying it was in Canada’s best interest.

Kinder Morgan says it is moving ahead with preparatory work at two terminals in Burnaby, but still needs to obtain numerous local permits and federal condition approvals to begin construction.

The project has drawn legal challenges and opposition from environmental groups and Native American tribes as well as from municipalities such as Vancouver and Burnaby.

It has also sparked a dispute between the provinces of Alberta, which has the world’s third-largest oil reserves, and British Columbia.

Opponents say increasing the flow of oil sent by pipeline and boosting the number of ships to transport it would increase the risks of oil spills and potential impacts to fish, orcas and other wildlife.

Walking with her son Saturday, Cassandra Schodt, 28, said more fossil fuel development isn’t needed.

“There are better ways,” said the Port Coquitlam woman, adding that she worried about the ability to clean up oils that sink.

“We cannot sit by idly and let this project go with the way it would threaten our livelihood, our lives, our territories, our waters and our culture,” said Dustin Rivers, a Squamish Nation leader.

Meanwhile, several hundred people rallied on the Vancouver waterfront on Saturday to push for the pipeline project to be built.

Lyn Anglin, a scientist in the mining industry, said it is important Canada continues to develop its natural resources.

“I’m a fan of renewable energy but we’re not there yet,” she said. “We can’t stop relying on oil and gas.”

Supporters say the expansion of the pipeline, which has operated since 1953, will give Canada access to new global markets, provide jobs and millions of dollars in economic benefits and can be done responsibly.

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