Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The National Energy Board of Canada on Friday recommended approval for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project. (Photo: Greenpeace)

'Shame on Trudeau': Anger Stirred as Canada's Energy Board Approves Trans Mountain Pipeline

"We have a duty to protect what we've all been blessed with in British Columbia in regard to the pristine beauty of the environment," said one First Nations leader. "We will rise to the challenge."

Julia Conley

Indigenous tribes and green campaigners were angered but not surprised Friday when Canada's National Energy Board (NEB) recommended that the government move ahead with its planned expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline—despite acknowledging that the project will negatively affect the environment.

The decision paved the way for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's administration to increase fossil fuel emissions, endanger wildlife, and threaten the lives and livelihoods of the eight million people who live in the pipeline's path.

The NEB argued that the pipeline is in the public interest and provided the government with a list of 16 conditions that it must meet as it prepares to expand the 1,150 kilometer (714 mile) pipeline, tripling the amount of oil the tar sands pipeline will carry from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia—but critics including Burnaby mayor Mike Hurley argued that the NEB has no intention of protecting the environment or wildlife by enforcing strict regulations on the construction.

"This is the problem with drinking the Kool-Aid served by politicians who are masters of progressive symbolism but evade substance. Once in power, they can be counted on to do substantive harm." —Naomi Klein

The conditions will not "prevent significant public safety risks and harms to marine life and other environmental impacts," Hurley told the Vancouver Sun.

The board noted that the Trans Mountain pipeline is likely to have a significant negative impact on the Southern resident orca, whose population in the Salish Sea off the coast of British Columbia is rapidly dwindling; on the Indigenous population in the area, especially in the event of an oil spill; and on the environment, with fossil fuel emissions rising as cargo ships carry the oil after it travels from Edmonton.

Outcry from First Nations and campaigners ensued when the NEB initially approved the project in 2016, and opponents rejoiced last summer when the Federal Court of Appeals temporarily blocked construction. The court argued that Trudeau's administration and Kinder Morgan, which sold the pipeline to the government for $4.5 billion last year, had not sufficiently considered its effects on Southern orcas and indigenous tribes.

But Friday's approval—which came after what one campaigner called a rushed process with a "compressed hearing schedule" that allowed for little input from the public—was not unexpected among critics.

"This entire process is a joke," Peter McCartney of the Wilderness Committee told the Sun. "I don't think anybody's surprised to see the NEB green lighting this pipeline—it's what they were designed to do."

Kwikwasut'inuxw Haxwa'mis Chief Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said Trudeau has indicated his government will stop at nothing to complete the project.

"The troubling part for me and First Nations concerned about their water and their territories is the fact that Trudeau has stated this pipeline will be built, full stop. It makes an absolute mockery of the consultation process that was court ordered and has been accomplished today," Chamberlin told the Sun.

In a press conference, Grand Chief Stewart Philip also said indigenous tribes will not relent in their "deeply entrenched opposition" to the pipeline, which will threaten food sources of the 29 tribes that live in the path of the proposed route.

"We are proud British Columbians and we have a duty to protect what we've all been blessed with in British Columbia in regard to the pristine beauty of the environment," Philip said. "We will rise to the challenge."

"I understand in British Columbia, this pipeline will provide a way of having an income," said Noel Purser of the Suquamish Tribe, which joined four other Northwest U.S. tribes in challenging the project in 2013. "But is it worth the potential of a spill, that risk? Is it really worth that? Because that will impact everybody, not just here in British Columbia. It will impact us in Suquamish; it will impact our relatives in Alaska."

"Once again, Canada's NEB has sided with short-term Big Oil profits instead of the long-term health of the Pacific Northwest's people, climate and orcas," said Marcie Keever of Friends of the Earth. "Shame on Prime Minister Trudeau, his government, and the National Energy Board of Canada for ignoring widespread opposition and serious concerns in favor of this destructive pipeline. Canada's decision will likely bring about the extinction of the Northwest's iconic killer whales and drive us further towards the brink of climate chaos."

Author Naomi Klein argued that the Trans Mountain pipeline project should offer a lesson to voters who have been convinced by politicians who exude "progressive symbolism" while campaigning "but evade substance" when asked how they will initiate a bold, ambitious agenda to protect the planet and human rights.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'This Cannot Happen': Biden DHS Seeks Contractor for Migrant Detention Center at Guantánamo Bay

The solicitation for bids—which requires some guards who speak Spanish and Haitian Creole—comes as the administration is under fire for mass deportations of migrants, including thousands of Haitians.

Jessica Corbett ·

Global Vaccine Goals 'Fall Terribly Short' Due to Big Pharma and Rich Nations' Greed: Experts

"Wealthy nations are using up the world's vaccine supply, and developing nations are suffering and losing thousands of people every day."

Brett Wilkins ·

11 Senators Support House Progressives' Push to Pass Full Biden Agenda

"We voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill with the clear commitment that the two pieces of the package would move together along a dual track."

Jessica Corbett ·

Ex-Prisoners Recall US Torture at 'Afghanistan's Abu Ghraib'

"It is psychologically hard for me to recall all that was happening," said one former Bagram Air Base inmate. "The torture was mostly done by Afghans, sometimes the Americans. But the orders came from the U.S."

Brett Wilkins ·

Rapid Shift to Electric Vehicles Could Create Over 150,000 Jobs in US by 2030

A new report says "smart" pro-labor policies by lawmakers would transform the "inevitable" shift to EVs "into a new beginning for U.S. producers and the rebuilding of a foundation for good jobs."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo