Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday he is ready to offer financial aid and new legislation to push forward the contentious Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion that will triple production of tar sands going from Alberta to British Columbia.
Houston-based developer Kinder Morgan has threatened to scrap the $7.4 billion (USD $5.9 billion) project unless political and legal opposition is resolved by May 31. The energy giant's move came after fierce opposition from environmental activists and Indigenous groups, as well as escalating tension between the Albertan and British Columbian governments.
But after a meeting with the premiers of Alberta and British Columbia on Sunday, Trudeau insisted the project will go ahead.
"The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is of vital strategic interest to Canada," he said. "It will be built."
"I have instructed the minister of finance to initiate formal financial discussions with Kinder Morgan, the result of which will be to remove the uncertainty overhanging the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project," Trudeau noted.
Why are major energy projects of vital interest to Canada? Because they’re vital to the people who work hard every… https://t.co/wSSIDJ2BHU— Justin Trudeau (@Justin Trudeau)1523837812.0
Trudeau added that he is seeking federal jurisdiction over the pipeline "We are actively pursuing legislative options that will assert and reinforce the government of Canada's jurisdiction in this matter," he said.
But British Columbia's Horgan said after the meeting he will continue to fight the pipeline expansion due to the threat of oil spills in the province.
"My obligation is to the people of B.C., and I will defend that until I am no longer premier," Horgan said Sunday.
However, he said he will back down if the court rules against his government, the Globe and Mail reported.
The interests of British Columbians — and all Canadians — should come before those in Texas boardrooms. I will cont… https://t.co/ryapkFxklr— John Horgan (@John Horgan)1523826323.0
"The Prime Minister is saying they are in negotiations with Kinder Morgan to ensure an end to uncertainty. What he is ignoring is that we are the uncertainty. We will not be bought and we will block this pipeline," Will George, Watch House guardian and project leader, said.
Greenpeace Canada's climate and energy campaigner Mike Hudema also commented, "If Trudeau believes he can ram this pipeline through, he is misreading both the constitution and the electorate, while underestimating the opposition on the ground."
"Bailing out failing projects, strong-arming Indigenous communities by ignoring their right to consent, and bypassing calls for science-based decision making are ways to create a crisis, not solve one," he said.
Kinder Morgan told Reuters it would not comment on Trudeau's remarks "until we've reached a sufficiently definitive agreement on or before May 31 that satisfies our objectives."
Despite a court-ordered injunction barring anyone from coming within 5 meters (approximately 16.4 feet) of two of its BC construction sites, opponents of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion sent a clear message Saturday that they would not back down.
Twenty-eight demonstrators were arrested March 17 after blocking the front gate to Kinder Morgan's tank farm in Burnaby, BC for four hours, according to a press release put out by Protect the Inlet, the group leading the protest.
According to the release, the protesters were a mixed group of indigenous people, families, retired teachers and other community members.
"We're going to do whatever it takes, and by any means necessary, and we'll show up day after day until we win this fight," Treaty-6-Mathias Colomb-Cree-Nation member Clayton Thomas-Muller said in the release.
Saturday's action was an intentional show of civil disobedience.
"Everyone was very aware of the situation, of the possibility of arrest. And everyone was given the chance at any time during the day to leave that zone and not be arrested," Amina Moustaqim-Barrette, protestor and 350.org communications coordinator, told the Vancouver Sun.
According to the Protect the Inlet website, Saturday's action will kick off a two-week mobilization from March 18 to March 24. The activists need to prevent Kinder Morgan from completing key clear-cutting work by March 26, when the return of migratory birds will cause delays.
Thursday's injunction also applies to the pipeline's construction site at Westridge Marine Terminal, the Sun reported.
According to 350 Seattle, the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project aims to triple the amount of Alberta tar sands oil carried from the Canadian Rockies to Burnaby, BC and Anacortes, WA from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day. It would also increase oil tanker activity in the Salish Sea and Strait of Juan de Fuca by 700 percent, threatening vulnerable orca populations and other marine animals.
New Analysis Shows, There's No Safe Way to Transport Fossil Fuels https://t.co/vKlPHUNutf @greenpeaceusa @MarkRuffalo @LeoDiCaprio @350— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1501865268.0
The Trudeau government approved the Trans Mountain expansion in November 2016, but the social action group the Council of Canadians says it is inconsistent with Canada's commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris agreement. It is also opposed by over 61 indigenous groups; of the nine cases challenging the project in Canadian courts, seven were brought by First Nations.
Saturday's action comes exactly one week after indigenous leaders from the U.S. and Canada inaugurated a traditional Coast Salish "Kwekwecnewtxw" or "a place to watch from" in the pipeline's projected path. While construction started on the Watch House, 10,000 demonstrators marched in solidarity.
Trans Mountain's lawyer Shaun Parker requested that Justice Kenneth Affleck, who issued Thursday's injunction, also order the new Watch House removed. Affleck, however, ruled that it could stay, the Canadian Press reported Thursday.
"I'm sensitive to the concern of those who created this Watch House, that it is of considerable significance to them," Affleck said, further ruling that the pipeline could remove it only if it demonstrated an emergency need, and that it would have to replace it afterwards.
Saturday's protest wasn't the only direct action against the pipeline expansion this weekend. 30 "kayaktivists" from a group called Mosquito Fleet surrounded a Kinder Morgan oil barge in Seattle's Elliott Bay Sunday to protest the increased tanker traffic the project is slated to bring to the Salish Sea, King5 News reported.
Mosquito Fleet's Zara Greene told King5 that the pipeline expansion would threaten communities on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border. "Kinder Morgan is a threat to us all," she said.
There is a Kinder Morgan oil barge coming in right now! We say #StopKinderMorgan!No more oil Barges in Seattle! https://t.co/ZYpxP2Jy11— Mosquito Fleet (@Mosquito Fleet)1521406535.0
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
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Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
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"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
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Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
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Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.