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Community to NEB Kinder Morgan Hearings: Permission DENIED

Kiera Porisky and Eric Lescarbeau

January 19, 2016

Kicking off ten days of protests, climate activists served the National Energy Board yesterday at its Vancouver offices with a people’s injunction against the Kinder Morgan pipeline review process to chants of “NEB and Trudeau, Kinder Morgan we say NO!” Hearings are set to continue from January 19 to 29 in Burnaby and will be met with staunch resistance from a coalition of indigenous, environmental, community and student activists and organizations. 
Coming out of the Paris Climate talks hopes had been high that Trudeau’s Liberal government would live up to their elections promises and take meaningful action to meet their commitment to capping global temperature increases at 1.5 degrees Celsius. Initially it seemed that they were when they announced a ban on tanker traffic on BC’s north coast, effectively killing Enbridge’s widely unpopular Northern Gateway pipeline. However, Trudeau also made clear during his election campaign his support for Kinder Morgan as long as it was “done right.” 
Trudeau's oily ways
Last August, at a campaign event in Victoria, Trudeau was directly asked by Kai Nagata of Dogwood Initiative, a local environmental non-profit organization, “Does your NEB overhaul apply to Kinder Morgan?” Trudeau assuredly replied “Yes. Yes, it applies to existing projects, pipelines included.” This was to include consideration of impact on climate change and expanded community input, especially of First Nations communities. But we have yet to see any evidence of these changes.
While the Liberal government openly acknowledges the flawed review process introduced by Harper in 2013, they are continuing to use it to approve risky pipelines projects. Not only is this unchanged process being applied to the Kinder Morgan expansion but to TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline as well. This clear act of choosing oil company profits over the environment, over consent from and a blossoming relationship with First Nations in Canada, and over the trust of ordinary people, shows all too clearly what the Trudeau government values and what it is willing to lose.
Shortly after his appointment as Natural Resources Minister in November, Jim Carr backed away from Trudeau’s commitment stating that the review process would continue while they worked on instituting changes. The main concern for Carr is not the climate but a global crisis of overproduction in oil and carbon based energy sources that has driven prices into the ground and threatened the viability of high cost Tar Sands producers. Carr made clear that the purpose of revamping the review process is to remove the “dirty oil” tag and ensure a market for Tar Sands oil while softening support for the anti-pipeline movement. “Ultimately we are faced with the challenge of assuring our markets, our customers and our citizens that the assessment process factors in everything one ought to consider important as we develop our resources sustainably.” 
Carr and Trudeau have never publicly entertained even the possibility that the review process could reject the Trans Mountain pipeline, so whether these changes are made before, during or after the review seems to make little difference to the outcome in their minds. On Monday, Carr expressed the Liberal government’s support for expanding pipeline capacity and told reporters, “There has to be public confidence in the regulatory process if we are going to sustain the movement of these resources to tidewater."
Yet despite their “sunny ways” the Liberals have failed to gain “social license” to build pipelines because of the courageous opposition from First Nations and mass mobilizations like the Global Climate March at the end of November and the weeks-long protests/mass civil disobedience on Burnaby Mountain in 2014.   
People's injunction
Inspired by the words of Trudeau himself “Ultimately governments grant permits, but only communities grant permission”, the people's injunction states that the Liberal Government does not have permission to proceed with Kinder Morgan expansion:
“The following is considered sufficient evidence for this people’s injunction:
1.      The National Energy Board’s failure to consider the contribution this pipeline will have on climate change, despite Canada’s endorsement of a 1.5C limit to global temperature rise at the COP21 this December.
2.      The National Energy Board’s failure to uphold the provincial and federal government’s duty to meaningfully consult with First Nations communities, despite Canada’s commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which requires, free, prior and informed consent.
3.      The National Energy Board’s failure to meaningfully consult with communities and respect their right to reject projects which endanger their homes, livelihood, and the future livability of our planet.
4.      The National Energy Board’s failure to consider evidence of upstream and downstream socio-economic and environmental impacts; including tanker traffic beyond 12 nautical miles, existing storage tanks and infrastructure, and greenhouse gas emissions and water contamination. 
This injunction was presented in actions at NEB offices across the country over the last week.  In an open letter to Trudeau, Cam Fenton, national Tar Sands Campaigner for 350 put it clearly: “If you will not show the necessary leadership to stop these reviews, people will.”
Another letter published by three First Nations assemblies across Canada last week made clear that Trudeau’s promises to rebuild the government’s relationship with First Nations was also at stake. “Our First Nations in British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec call for the establishment of a new pipeline review and assessment process, to be developed and implemented in collaboration with First Nations that will enable a thorough and objective environmental assessment of these pipelines.”
After Paris it is clear that the only realistic alternative to climate destruction lies not in the polished rhetoric of politicians like Trudeau but in the unity of the Indigenous and climate justice movements. Some in the movement have questioned the value of fighting over the review process given that it seems predestined to approve every pipeline. But by arguing for a truly inclusive review process grounded in science and respect for indigenous peoples, the climate justice movement exposes the hypocrisy of the Trudeau government and demonstrates for all that ordinary working class people have the ability to make a just, sustainable and truly democratic society that puts people and the planet before profits. 
The next step in building this alternative will be this Saturday, January 23rd at the mass “STOP Kinder Morgan Rally” at the Burnaby Delta Hotel and Convention Centre at 1pm. A daily vigil will also be maintained outside the hearings. You can follow updates on the NEB hearings and climate actions via Twitter @dogwoodbc or via the Dogwood Initiative’s Facebook page

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Embedded Video: 
Trudeau committing to overhaul the NEB review process before approving pipelines.

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