Environmental Groups Vow to Block Tar Sands Oil Project: 'We Are Going to Not Allow Kinder Morgan to Finish This Pipeline'
By Andy Rowell
As the clock ticks down until the May 31 deadline for the controversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project, which will triple the amount of tar sands being transported from Alberta to the British Columbian coast, the campaign against its expansion is spreading abroad.
On Sunday in Seattle, more than 120 miles south of where the pipeline hits the coast, hundreds of "kayactivists" took to the water to protest against the pipeline.
They were part of a demonstration by the U.S. environmental groups Mosquito Fleet, Greenpeace USA and Sierra Club that organized a rally in the city against Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline expansion.
Tensions are certainly rising. Kinder Morgan has given the federal government of Canada until the end of the month to resolve outstanding financial and legal issues surrounding the pipeline. Last week, in order to appease the Texan oil company, Trudeau's government announced that it will effectively give Kinder Morgan a "blank check" "to indemnify" the pipeline "against any financial loss," suffered if they build the pipeline.
The move seems to have backfired and emboldened everyone fighting the pipeline. And as the May 31 deadline gets closer, there is a growing awareness not only of the threat that the pipeline poses to the climate, but also to marine life as it would massively increase the tanker traffic up the west coast of Canada and the U.S.
Indeed, last week the Natural Resources Defense Council warned Kinder Morgan that the pipeline project, could be "illegal" under the Endangered Species Act, which is seen as one of the world's strongest species protection laws.
"It's not just about the spills, it's not just about the orcas," said Graham Clumpner, one of the paddlers with the Mosquito Fleet: "The bigger issue that we are all facing is climate change," he said. "We are going to not allow Kinder Morgan to finish this pipeline."
Ben Smith from Greenpeace USA added, "It would make climate change worse, it would trample Indigenous rights, it would run over our clean water here, and it would decimate the final 76 remaining orcas, the Southern Resident killer whale in our waters."
At the rally yesterday, one of the speakers was Cedar George-Parker from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, who have been leading the community opposition to the pipeline in British Columbia. "They want to bring that oil through here, but we say that we will stop Kinder Morgan," George-Parker said. "It is not happening."
Not only is the resistance growing from the local community, indigenous rights groups and local and U.S.-based environmental groups to the pipeline, but even the financial community thinks the economics and changing energy market is stacked against it. Wal van Lierop is president and CEO of Chrysalix Venture Capital.
Writing in the Globe and Mail Sunday, Van Lierop pointed out what many people having been saying to Trudeau for months, but what the Canadian prime minister has flatly ignored: "There is also growing consensus that the world is going through an energy transition," he wrote, before likening the current energy transition to a baseball game, where "we could see the stages of its progression over the past decade."
In the first inning, argued Van Lierop, "coal lost to gas in the competition for power generation in North America and Europe; solar and wind lit up the scoreboard with incredible cost reductions in the second inning; but in the third, shale oil and gas rallied, creating an energy boom in U.S. gas and making that country the international swing player—supplanting OPEC in that position."
Van Lierop added: "Now we are entering the fourth inning, with a playing field of abundant cheap energy and midway through the ball game it looks like the players highest on the cost curve will be the ones striking out. Those players will likely include both new projects in Arctic oil and the oil sands, as their business case makes them weak in a game where cost is key."
He even went as far as to warn, because the pipeline makes no economic sense due to the expensive tar sands extraction and transportation costs, that "we would have to presume that the Alberta and federal governments hadn't seen the Kinder Morgan order book before they announced an intention to financially support the company's pipeline, because that may show a rapidly deteriorating business case."
He is not the only one who thinks Trudeau is in trouble here. Indeed, as Bloomberg pointed out at the end of last week, "Justin Trudeau's pipeline nightmare may be only getting started … the prime minister could end up fighting for an asset that hardly anybody wants."
Bill Nye Confronts Justin Trudeau Over Kinder Morgan Pipeline https://t.co/EwCzoBV48n @NRDC @YEARSofLIVING… https://t.co/olSrnqvMu3— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1520448496.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.
By Karen L. Smith-Janssen
Colette Pichon Battle gave a December 2019 TEDWomen Talk on the stark realities of climate change displacement, and people took notice. The video racked up a million views in about two weeks. The attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) advocates for climate justice in communities of color. Confronted with evidence showing how her own South Louisiana coastal home of Bayou Liberty will be lost to flooding in coming years, the 2019 Obama Fellow dedicates herself to helping others still reeling from the impacts of Katrina face the heavy toll that climate change has taken—and will take—on their lives and homelands. Her work focuses on strengthening multiracial coalitions, advocating for federal, state, and local disaster mitigation measures, and redirecting resources toward Black communities across the Gulf South.
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By Stuart Braun
"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."
'These Aren't Wildfires'<p>Sam Ricketts, who led climate policy and strategy for Governor Jay Inslee's 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted on September 11 that "These aren't wildfires. These are #climatefires, driven by fossil fuel pollution."</p><p>"The rate and the strength and the devastation wrought by these disasters are fueled by climate change," Ricketts told DW of fires that have burnt well over 5 million acres across California, Oregon, Washington State, and into neighboring Idaho. </p><p>In a two-day period in early September, Ricketts notes that more of Washington State burned than in almost any entire fire season until now, apart from 2015. </p><p>California, meanwhile, was a tinderbox after its hottest summer on record, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching nearly 130 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. It has been reported as the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth.</p>
<div id="29ad9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8346fe7350e1371d400097cd48bf45a2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1306969603180879872" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Drought-parched wetlands in South America have been burning for weeks. https://t.co/pjAKdFcKPg #Pantanal https://t.co/ImN2C5vwcp</div> — NASA Earth (@NASA Earth)<a href="https://twitter.com/NASAEarth/statuses/1306969603180879872">1600440810.0</a></blockquote></div><p>As evidenced by Australia's apocalyptic Black Summer of 2019-2020, fires are burning bigger and for longer, with new records set year-on-year. Right now, Brazil's vast and highly biodiverse Pantanal wetlands are suffering from catastrophic fires.</p>
#climatefires Started in Australia<p>Governor Inslee this month invoked the phrase climate fires for arguably the first time in the U.S., according to Ricketts.</p><p>But the term was also used as fires burnt out of control in Australia in late 2019. In the face of a 2000km (more than 1,200 miles) fire front, and government officials and media who <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/trump-climate-change-denial-emissions-environment-germany-fake-heartland-seibt/a-52688933" target="_blank">played down the link to climate change</a>, Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and a friend decided that reference to bushfires was inadequate. </p><p>"We both just said, we've got to start calling them climate fires, that's what they are," the Australian Senator told DW.</p><p>Hanson-Young says scientists have been warning for decades that these would be the effects of global heating. "We've been told these kinds of extreme weather events and destruction is what climate change would look like, and it's right here on our doorstep," she said from her home state of South Australia — where by early September fire warnings had already been issued.</p><p>"Calling them climate fires was making it absolutely crystal clear. It is essential that there's no ambiguity," she said </p><p>Having deliberately invoked the term, Hanson-Young soon started to push it on social media via a #climatefires hashtag. </p>
How to Talk About the Urgency of Global Heating<p>The need to use more explicit language when talking about extreme weather events linked to climate change is part of a broader push to express the urgency of global heating. In 2019, activist Greta Thunberg tweeted that the term "climate change" did not reflect the seriousness of the situation. </p><p>"Can we all now please stop saying 'climate change' and instead call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?" she wrote. </p><p>"Climate change has for a long time been talked about as something that is a danger in the future," said Hansen-Young. "But the consequences are already here. When people hear the word crisis, they understand that something has to happen, that action has to be taken."</p><p><span></span>Some terms are now used in public policy, with state and national governments, and indeed the EU Parliament, declaring an official climate emergency in the last year. </p>
Words That Reflect the Science<p>But while the West Coast governors all fervently link the fires to an unfolding climate crisis, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to avoid any reference to climate. In a briefing about the fires, he responded to overtures by Wade Crowfoot, California's Natural Resources Secretary, to work with the states on the climate crisis by stating: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch." Crowfoot replied by saying that scientists disagreed. Trump rejoined with "I don't think science knows, actually." </p><p>It was reminiscent of the anti-science approach to the coronavirus pandemic within the Trump administration, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/donald-trump-admits-playing-down-coronavirus-risks/a-54874350" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least publicly</a>. Fossil fuel companies are also benefiting from his disavowal of climate science, with the Trump administration having <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-trumps-paris-climate-accord-exit-isnt-really-a-problem/a-51124958" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pulled out of the Paris Agreement</a> and reopened fossil fuel infrastructure like the Keystone XL pipeline. </p><p>But the science community has responded, with Scientific American magazine endorsing Trump's Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden, the first presidential endorsement in its 175-year history. </p><p>Hanson-Young says the use of explicit language like climate fires has also been important in Australia due to the climate denialism of politicians and the press, especially in publications owned by Rupert Murdoch. As fires burnt out much of Australia's southeast coast, they were commonly blamed on arson — a tactic also recently used in the U.S.</p>
Climate Rhetoric Could Help Decide Election<p>The language of climate has begun to influence the U.S. presidential election campaign, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden labelling President Trump a "climate arsonist."</p><p>Biden is touting a robust climate plan that includes a 2050 zero emissions target and a return to the Paris Agreement. Though lacking the ambition of The New Green Deal, it has been front and center of his policy platform in recent days, at a time when five hurricanes are battering the U.S. Gulf Coast while smoke blanketing the West Coast spreads all the way to the East. </p><p>People are experiencing the climate crisis in a visceral way and almost universally relate to the language of an emergency, says Ricketts. "They know something is wrong."</p>
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