Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Trans Mountain Tar Sands Pipeline 'Final Harpoon' for Endangered Killer Whales

Energy
Trans Mountain Tar Sands Pipeline 'Final Harpoon' for Endangered Killer Whales

At the beginning of last week, environmentalists celebrated when the largest energy infrastructure company in North America, Kinder Morgan, pulled the plug on its controversial natural gas pipeline which had been proposed through parts of Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire, called NorthEast Energy Direct.

But the energy giant is pushing ahead with other contentious pipelines, not least its Trans Mountain pipeline that connects the dirty tar sands in Alberta to an oil terminal in Burnaby, in British Colombia.

According to Felleman: “This project would be the final harpoon in the population of endangered southern resident killer whales.” Photo credit: Ed Schipul

From here the tar sands is transported by tanker via the ecologically sensitive Salish Sea, which is a crucial habitat for endangered killer whales.

And now a new report by Friends of the Earth, Tar Sands/Dilbit Crude Oil Movements Within the Salish Sea, focuses on these movements of tar sands, which have been diluted with lighter volatile products to enable it to be shipped as “dilbit” or diluted bitumen.

The report focuses on the poorly publicized proposal to triple the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would result in an increased capacity to ship dilbit crude from Burnaby in British Colombia via the Salish Sea from 300,000 bbls/day to 890,000 bbls/day.

In turn this would result in a 7-fold increase in tanker traffic transiting through the Salish Sea, which is not just an important habitat for endangered killer whales, but is also home to 37 species of mammals, 172 species of birds, 247 species of fish and more than 3,000 species of invertebrates—approximately 113 of which are either listed as threatened or endangered in Canada and the U.S.

The report concludes the number of dilbit carrying oil tankers would increase from approximately one per week to one per day, significantly increasing the amount of oil being transported through the sea.

Photo credit: Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth northwest consultant Fred Felleman said: “Trans Mountain is the one of the biggest threats to U.S. waters that few people have ever heard of.”

He says the proposed dilbit shipments are “a recipe for disaster.”

Friends of the Earth is now calling for improvements to the region’s oil spill response regulations, warning against “the biggest underlying threat of an oil spill—complacency.”

According to Felleman: “The expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline poses the greatest risk of a catastrophic oil spill in the Salish Sea,” before adding: “This project would be the final harpoon in the population of endangered southern resident killer whales.”

And that is before you factor in how the dirty tar sands flowing down Trans Mountain will undermine Canada’s climate goals.

With the signing of the historic Paris agreement, Canada has committed to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees C and aspire to keep it to less than 1.5 degrees C.

In either scenario, there is simply no room for tar sands expansion.

Alberta’s Premier Notley’s most recent plea for new pipelines to access more markets has been thoroughly debunked in a recent Oil Change International briefing note here.

New pipelines are about one thing only: locking in dangerous expansion of the world’s third largest oil reserve. This would also mean harnessing a fragile economy to decades’ more worth of boom and bust.

Alberta has massive potential to become a renewable energy superpower and new pipelines would do nothing but undermine this opportunity.

The Trans Mountain pipeline has also been resoundingly rejected by First Nations, municipalities along the route (including the city of Vancouver) and British Columbians alike.

It looks like the opposition to this pipeline will only grow.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Solar Impulse Pilot: ‘I Flew Over Plastic Waste As Big As a Continent’

Massive Coral Reef Discovered at Mouth of Amazon, But It’s Already Threatened by Oil Drilling

Gov. Cuomo Rejects the Constitution Pipeline, Huge Win for the Anti-Fracking Movement

Watch: River Explodes Into Flames From Methane Coming From Nearby Fracking Sites

Radiation-contaminated water tanks and damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Feb. 25, 2016 in Okuma, Japan. Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Japan will release radioactive wastewater from the failed Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean, the government announced on Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier, aka the doomsday glacier, is seen here in 2014. NASA / Wikimedia Commons / CC0

Scientists have maneuvered an underwater robot beneath Antarctica's "doomsday glacier" for the first time, and the resulting data is not reassuring.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Journalists film a protest by the environmental organization BUND at the Datteln coal-fired power plant in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany on April 23, 2020. Bernd Thissen / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Lead partners of a global consortium of news outlets that aims to improve reporting on the climate emergency released a statement on Monday urging journalists everywhere to treat their coverage of the rapidly heating planet with the same same level of urgency and intensity as they have the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Airborne microplastics are turning up in remote regions of the world, including the remote Altai mountains in Siberia. Kirill Kukhmar / TASS / Getty Images

Scientists consider plastic pollution one of the "most pressing environmental and social issues of the 21st century," but so far, microplastic research has mostly focused on the impact on rivers and oceans.

Read More Show Less
A laborer works at the site of a rare earth metals mine at Nancheng county, Jiangxi province, China on Oct. 7, 2010. Jie Zhao / Corbis via Getty Images

By Michel Penke

More than every second person in the world now has a cellphone, and manufacturers are rolling out bigger, better, slicker models all the time. Many, however, have a bloody history.

Read More Show Less