We want to begin this editorial with a pleasant reminder of one of Justin Trudeau’s platform promises last election: that his government would revise the National Energy Board’s (NEB) pipeline approval process before any more pipelines were built.
Now let’s recap what just happened earlier this month: he approved a pipeline. Two of them, in fact.
Outraged? So are we. And while we understand Alberta’s—and Canada’s—economy is in a slump and needs all the help it can get to get back on its feet, Trudeau’s approval of Kinder Morgan and Line 3 still feels like a slap in the face. Canadians voted for a party that promised a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous people, and a forward-thinking approach to climate change. Approving these pipelines gives us neither.
Reinforcing that irreparable harm would be done to the relationship between First Nations and the federal government, Tsleil-Waututh nation Chief Maureen Thomas said that the project “would constitute a serious, unjustified infringement of our aboriginal title and rights in Eastern Burrard Inlet for generations to come” and would expose First Nations territories and people “to serious risks associated with oil spills and other concerns related to marine shipping.”
And recently, to protester’s greatest fears, over 176 000 gallons of crude oil leaked into the Ash Coulee Creek, about 150 miles away from the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota. Instead of state officials or pipeline workers, it was a landowner that discovered the spill on Dec. 5 due to a malfunctioning detector that failed to alert the company. Malfunctioning spill detectors are some of the most common causes of pipeline spills, and pipeline accidents occur at a rate of approximately 250 a year. This environmental threat is unacceptable, and more needs to be done to improve pipeline technology if it’s going to continue to be the go-to option for transporting fossil fuels.
But here’s the bottom line: Canada needs to start transitioning to a post-carbon economy if it wants to have any hope of meeting its climate commitments, and this means that no further investment in fossil fuels can be made, including pipelines. Trudeau said that “Canadians know that strong action on the environment is good on the economy,” but his latest approval of these pipelines is a direct contrary action to this statement.
If we continue to build pipelines, we’re going to make excuses to keep using them, and transitioning away from a fossil-fuels based infrastructure is going to become harder and harder. It’s time to stop kicking the can, and make a stand for real change.