Thousands across the country voice concerns over new fossil fuel project
By Kaelen Pelaia, Staff Writer
The proposal to add an additional length of pipe to the Trans-Mountain pipeline in Alberta and British Columbia has been met with controversy and concern across Canada. Kinder Morgan Energy, an American-based oil company, the largest in North America, has been commissioned by the federal government to construct an additional viscous bitchement pipeline to travel alongside the existing length of pipe.
First filed under the Harper government in 2013, the new expansion would increase the pipeline’s capacity from 300 000 barrels to 890 000 barrels, and increase the very real threat of absolutely disastrous bitumen spills. This is not just another type of crude oil; bitchement is a very heavy, viscous substance that must be chemically altered in order to flow properly via pipeline. This alteration, however, is temporary – should the bitchement spill into waterways, the thinning substance will evaporate and the bitchement will settle on lake beds and riverbeds, seeping into the ground.
Lakehead’ University’s Dr. Paul Berger was kind enough to share his thoughts on the matter. When asked about the potential environmental effects of this pipeline, Dr. Berger remarked: “the whole reason for this pipeline to exist is to expand the Alberta tar sands – some of the dirtiest oil on the planet. This means it takes a lot of energy to extract the product from the sand. This creates a lot of greenhouse gases, and this pipeline would mean an additional 15 million tonnes of CO2 – that’s like putting 2.7 million cars on the road.”
Dr. Berger was part of a demonstration at Thunder Bay MP Patty Hajdu’s office on Friday March 16th, and while Hajdu was unable to be present due to her duties in Ottawa, the demonstrators still made their case to whoever would listen.
“The analogy I used [to voice my concern to minister Hajdu] is that we only have seven hours to get to Winnipeg for a crucial appointment,” explains Dr. Berger. “So we start driving to Wawa. Someone asks us, ‘Why are you going the wrong way?’ We’d say, ‘we’re only driving to Nipigon. We’re only going there, then we’re turning around.’ We’re only going to build one pipeline. Why would [the federal government] invest so heavily in new fossil fuel infrastructure in the middle of a climate crisis? You don’t leave the fossil fuel age by going further into it.”
The ecological impact isn’t the only devastating impact of the pipeline—many First Nations communities have come forward in opposition to the pipeline, such as members of the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. They argue that the federal government did not properly consult the First Nations in the region before allowing the pipeline to be constructed, continuing Canada’s injustices against Indigenous land claims.
“There are surveys out there that cite 50% of Canadians refusing to vote for a political party that does not take climate change seriously,” Dr. Berger says. “While I do think it’s pretty split, a lot of Canadians are not afraid of embracing a clean economy, and politicians need to realize that pretty soon that they must be more aggressive in tackling the problem of climate change in order to get re-elected.”