Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Who’s Insuring the Trans Mountain Pipeline?

Energy
Climate campaigners and Indigenous peoples across Canada have spent the past several years protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline. Mark Klotz / Flickr / cc

By Elana Sulakshana

Rainforest Action Network recently uncovered a document that lists the 11 companies that are currently insuring the controversial Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline in Canada. These global insurance giants are providing more than USD$500 million in coverage for the massive risks of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, and they're also lined up to cover the expansion project.


The existing Trans Mountain pipeline is a major environmental and public health hazard with a long history of disastrous spills. Earlier this month, 50,000 gallons of crude oil spilled from a pump station located above an aquifer that supplies the Sumas First Nation with drinking water.

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project would multiply these risks tremendously. Though it is officially called an "expansion," this is no minor renovation. The Canadian government, which owns Trans Mountain, is attempting to build a parallel pipeline that would ship more than 890,000 barrels per year of highly-polluting tar sands crude oil to the coast of British Columbia.

For more than a decade, the expansion of Trans Mountain has been delayed in the face of powerful, Indigenous-led resistance on the ground and in the courts. It has not secured the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of Indigenous communities that are directly in the pipeline's route. Right now, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation, and Coldwater Indian Band are actively engaged in legal challenges on the project, and land defenders are asserting their rights and title along the route.

Furthermore, pushing forward this project flies in the face of Canada's commitment to cut emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. To keep global warming under 1.5ºC, we must stop expanding tar sands — and all fossil fuels — and instead invest in a just transition to phase out existing operations.

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the government and corporations are doubling down on their destructive plans to build new fossil fuel projects. Bulldozers that are laying the initial pipe on Trans Mountain have not quieted, even though this construction poses major risks to Indigenous and rural communities in its path, as well as workers that are housed together in close quarters. In Alberta, viral outbreaks have been linked to man camps at tar sands extraction sites, and yet the province's energy minister proclaimed that now is a great time to construct a pipeline, due to social distancing protocols that limit public protest.

The risks of these pipelines are so great that under federal law, the current pipeline and its expansion are not able to transport any oil without insurance. So if we can stop the flow of insurance money, we can stop the flow of oil.

We're ramping up the pressure on the insurance companies that are providing critical financial support.

Who’s insuring the pipeline? (2019-2020)

Here's the list of insurance companies that are providing coverage from August 2019 through August 2020:

  1. Zurich (Switzerland)
  2. Lloyd's (UK)
  3. Liberty Mutual (US)
  4. Chubb (US)
  5. AIG (US)
  6. WR Berkley (US)
  7. Starr (US)
  8. Stewart Specialty Risk Underwriting (Canada)
  9. Energy Insurance Mutual (US)
  10. Temple Insurance (Germany), a Canadian member of the Munich Re group
  11. HDI (Germany), which is owned by Talanx / Hannover Re

These insurance policies are being arranged by the biggest insurance broker in the world: Marsh. Fun fact: Marsh is also currently under fire for facilitating insurance for the Adani Carmicheal coal mine in Australia.

Trans Mountain's insurance policy is up at the end of August, so we are urgently calling on these companies to:

  • Publicly commit to not renew their insurance policy for Trans Mountain for 2020-21;
  • Moving forward, rule out insurance for all tar sands extraction and transport projects and companies;
  • Adopt a policy to ensure that projects and companies they insure have obtained the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of impacted communities.

We've made some progress. In late June, Talanx indicated that it already dropped the pipeline, and Munich Re signaled that it will not renew its policy. These two German insurers recently adopted policies restricting tar sands business.

A global coalition of environmental NGOs, First Nations, and insurance campaigners is demanding that the rest of Trans Mountain's insurers follow suit and stop being complicit in the violation of Indigenous rights, spread of COVID-19, and the desecration of sacred waterways and the global climate.

Elana Sulakshana leads Rainforest Action Network's campaign pressuring the U.S. insurance industry to stop making the climate crisis worse. She has been active in the climate justice movement for the last eight years, most recently organizing for just and equitable climate policy in Washington State, fighting fracking in the U.K., and campaigning for universities to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in communities.

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a White House Clean Energy Investment Summit on June 16, 2015 in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

With presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's climate platform becoming increasingly ambitious thanks to nonstop grassroots pressure, fossil fuel executives and lobbyists are pouring money into the coffers of President Donald Trump's reelection campaign in the hopes of keeping an outspoken and dedicated ally of dirty energy in the White House.

Read More Show Less
The Food and Drug Administration is now warning against more than 100 potentially dangerous hand sanitizers.
Antonio_Diaz / Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now warning against more than 100 potentially dangerous hand sanitizers.

Read More Show Less
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on July 1, 2020 in New York City. Byron Smith / Getty Images

While the nation overall struggles with rising COVID cases, New York State is seeing the opposite. After peaking in March and April and implementing strict shutdowns of businesses, the state has seen its number of positive cases steadily decline as it slowly reopens. From coast-to-coast, Governor Andrew Cuomo's response to the crisis has been hailed as an exemplar of how to handle a public health crisis.

Read More Show Less
A whale shark swims in the Egyptian Red Sea. Derek Keats / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Gavin Naylor

Sharks elicit outsized fear, even though the risk of a shark bite is infinitesimally small. As a marine biologist and director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, I oversee the International Shark Attack File – a global record of reported shark bites that has been maintained continuously since 1958.

Read More Show Less
A girl sits under a temporary shade made by joining two bed in Churu, Rajasthan on June 4, 2019. Temperatures in the Indian desert city hit 50 degrees C (122 F) for the second time in three days, sending residents scrambling for shade. MONEY SHARMA / AFP via Getty Images

Current efforts to curb an infectious disease show the potential we have for collective action. That action and more will be needed if we want to stem the coming wave of heat-related deaths that will surpass the number of people who die from all infectious diseases, according to a new study, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
America Pikas are found from the Sierra Nevada to the Rocky Mountains, and have been migrating to higher elevations. Jon LeVasseur / Flickr / Public Domain

By Jenny Morber

Caribbean corals sprout off Texas. Pacific salmon tour the Canadian Arctic. Peruvian lowland birds nest at higher elevations.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Biologists are studying the impact of climate change on the Nenets and their reindeer herds. Deutsche Welle

Biologist Egor Kirillin is on a special mission. Deep in the Siberian wilderness in the Russian Republic of Sakha, he waits on the Olenjok river until reindeer come thundering into the water.

Read More Show Less