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Ahead of Major Protest to Stop Kinder Morgan Pipeline, Company Files Injunction Against Water Protectors

"Kinder Morgan is intimidating environmentalists who are standing up for B.C. against a dirty tar sands pipeline."

protesters

On Saturday, thousands of protesters are expected to gather in British Columbia to oppose the expansion of a Kinder Morgan pipeline. (Photo: protecttheinlet.ca)

Ahead of a massive anti-pipeline demonstration planned for British Columbia on Saturday, the energy company Kinder Morgan has filed an injunction against more than a dozen Canadians who have protested the company's expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

"Kinder Morgan's action is an obvious SLAPP lawsuit designed to intimidate everyday citizens and stop people from speaking out against its dirty pipeline expansion."
Karen Mahon, Stand

While Earle Peach, one of the individuals named in the injunction, told the National Observer that more than 15 people are specifically listed in the lawsuit, it also lists "John Doe" and "Jane Doe," which the environmental group Stand warned "would imply that any member of the public now risks arrest by coming within 50 meters of Kinder Morgan facilities."

Stand campaign director Karen Mahon explained, "Kinder Morgan's action is an obvious SLAPP lawsuit designed to intimidate everyday citizens and stop people from speaking out against its dirty pipeline expansion," referring to "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation" suits that are often filed by corporations against environmental protesters in an effort to undermine free speech.

"This lawsuit tries to prevent someone from so much as standing on the side of the road and holding a sign," Mahon added. Houston-based Kinder Morgan reportedly seeks "an injunction, including an interim injunction" to prevent protesters from "obstructing roads that Trans Mountain requires" to access construction sites, as well as damages.

The $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which will triple the pipeline's ability to transport tar sands oil across the Canadian provinces British Columbia (B.C.) and Alberta, was approved by the Canadian federal government in November 2016.

The project "has faced years-long opposition from certain First Nations groups, the City of Burnaby, the City of Vancouver, and the B.C. government," the Observer notes. Critics remain concerned about the environmental impacts, particularly "a nearly seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic to the Burrard Inlet."

On Saturday, opponents of the expansion are slated to launch the Indigenous-led "Protect the Inlet" or Kwekwecnewtxw initiative with a mass mobilization in Burnaby, B.C. that's being coordinated by Coast Salish spiritual leaders.

"It is going to be like Standing Rock...it will be a massive mobilization."
—Will George, Protect the Inlet

Will George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, a spokesman for the Protect the Inlet initiative, told The Seattle Times, "It is going to be like Standing Rock," when thousands of "water protecters" protested against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota two years ago. So far, more than 7,400 people have pledged to show up on Saturday.

"The similarity is we are standing up to protect our water. And we are going to do this in a peaceful way," George noted. "It is going to mark a day in history; it will be a massive mobilization."

"We intend to stop this unwanted and destructive project like we stopped the Northern Gateway Pipeline and Energy East from ever seeing the light of day," Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said earlier this week. "I am looking forward to marching with thousands of people on March 10th to send a strong message that we love the land and love the water, and will not let Kinder Morgan trample on our rights and the environment."

"This is not just a B.C. First Nations fight: they have the full support of the 150 Nations from across the continent who signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion in opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline and any other attempt to expand the already devastating Alberta Tar Sands," added Grand Chief Serge 'Otsi' Simon of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake. He is part of a large delegation of Treaty Alliance Chiefs traveling to attend the demonstration on Saturday.

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