Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Sierra Club Post on Kinder Morgan

Dear Cheryl,

Flawed. Undemocratic. Rigged. A sham. Fraudulent.

These are just a few of the words that have been used to describe the National Energy Board’s (NEB) review of Kinder Morgan’s dangerous pipeline and tankers proposal.

In 2012, Ottawa rewrote the NEB rule book, further tilting the playing field in favour of proponents such as Kinder Morgan. The new rules blatantly remove obstacles to fossil fuel expansion and the federal government’s ambitions to turn Canada into an “energy superpower”.

If you think that’s wrong, please sign our petition calling for the provincial government to withdraw from the Kinder Morgan process and for new rules that impose a mandatory climate test on all energy infrastructure proposals.

It’s time to draw the line on giving fossil fuel proposals a free pass. We can no longer in good conscience ignore the associated climate impacts. And it’s time to stop muzzling legitimate democratic debate around our future.

The catalogue of outrages in the Kinder Morgan review process defies belief. Here is just a small sampling:

Voices silenced
2,118 people asked to have a say in the Kinder Morgan decision, but only 400 were granted intervenor status, while 798 were allowed to write a single letter of comment, leaving the rest silenced. Just this week, a group of rejected applicants took their case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Questions unanswered
The old rules allowed oral cross-examination of evidence. There’s a reason oral cross-examination is used in court: it’s the best way to get at flaws in evidence and arguments. Which apparently is a problem, because the new rules only allow written “information requests”. And the NEB isn’t even requiring a response: Kinder Morgan has ignored 2,385 of the 2,500 requests for information about their proposal and isn’t even required to let the B.C. government know their plans for emergency spill response. Kinder Morgan is being shielded from scrutiny by the very system that is supposed to do the scrutinizing!

First Nations rights violated
Twelve First Nations have written an open letter challenging the constitutionality of the NEB’s approach, mostly because there has been no meaningful consultation at any stage of the process. This lays the groundwork for legal challenges once the proposal is approved.

Climate? What climate?
Never mind that the Kinder Morgan pipeline would release 120 million tonnes of CO2 every year (equivalent to roughly twice B.C.’s annual reported emissions)  into the atmosphere over several decades. No, any discussion of climate has been banished from the NEB’s deliberations. In addition, slippery new language requires you to be “directly affected” to have a voice. This language has been used to disqualify climate scientists from participating in the process. It’s time our governments connected the dots: we are all “directly affected” by climate change, as sea levels rise, as oceans acidify and as wildfires, droughts and extreme weather events become more common. And on that basis, we all deserve a say in proposals that “directly affect” our climate.

If you agree this rigged process must be fixed, please sign our petition.

The fix doesn’t have to be in!
Two crucial things need to happen. First, the provincial government must withdraw from the NEB process. This can be accomplished very simply: all Victoria has to do is write a letter to the federal government providing 30 days’ notice. This will rescind the so-called Equivalency Agreement whereby the Province handed over its power to undertake an environmental assessment of Kinder Morgan’s proposal to the federal government. It’s not too late to take that power back. Please tell Victoria to write that letter today!

Second, the provincial government must subject Kinder Morgan (and all other energy infrastructure proposals) to a B.C. environmental assessment that includes a scientifically rigorous climate test. We are calling for a B.C. Climate Test that takes a “wellhead to wheels” approach—in other words, all greenhouse gas emissions from extraction to transportation to eventual burning must be counted when assessing the climate impact of a proposed project. Consideration must also be given to whether competing proposals offer more climate-friendly alternatives.

Fail to pass the test, and your project is a non-starter.

It all boils down to this choice: we can test energy proposals for their climate-friendliness, or we can face a climate that tests us, ever more harshly, for our fitness to steward this planet.

It’s essential we deliver a strong clear message to the politicians in Victoria: British Columbians want control of our energy future and we want our climate to be a central consideration in all decision-making.

So please, for the sake of our fresh water and wild salmon ecosystems, send that message today!

It’s time we did this.

With hope and gratitude,

Caitlyn Vernon
Sierra Club BC