Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release


Kristen Monsell, (510) 844-7137,

Press Release

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project in Canada Threatens Critically Endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales

Pipeline Company Has Long History of Spills, Accidents in United States
OTTAWA, Ontario -

The Center for Biological Diversity today urged the Canadian government to reject Kinder Morgan’s proposal to build a 613-mile pipeline so it can transport dirty Alberta tar sands oil to the United States and China. The pipeline would run from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia, where the oil would be loaded onto tankers and shipped through critical habitat for endangered Southern Resident killer whales, a species with fewer than 85 individual animals left.

Kinder Morgan has had at least 184 leaks and other pipeline incidents caused by corrosion, ruptures, equipment failure and other problems in the United States since 2006, federal data show. These incidents resulted in $75 million in property damage and more than 27,300 barrels of hazardous materials spilled.

“This company’s disturbing history highlights the toxic threat of its pipeline expansion project,” said Center attorney Kristen Monsell. “If this project’s permitted, the pollution, noise and increased risk of dangerous oil spills would threaten the survival of some of the most amazing animals on Earth. Canada must reject this environmentally destructive project.”

Southern Resident killer whales live primarily in waters off Washington and British Columbia and are protected as an endangered species in both the United States and Canada. Despite these protections the species hasn’t recovered and is expected to decline to only 75 individuals within a generation. Existing human activities in and near coastal waters threaten these animals by reducing salmon numbers (their primary food), generating toxic pollution and increasing ocean noise, which disrupts the orcas’ ability to communicate and locate prey.

The project would nearly triple the capacity of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline to 890,000 barrels per day and would increase the amount of tanker traffic in the Salish Sea — a core foraging area for these endangered orcas — seven-fold, from around 60 tankers per year to more than 400.

Experts have said that an oil spill from the project could collapse salmon stocks and lead to the extinction of Southern Resident killer whales, similar to what is happening to a pod of killer whales near Prince William Sound due to lingering effects of the Exxon Valdez disaster. That pod now consists of only seven animals and is expected to die off soon.

“Southern Resident killer whales are already teetering on the brink of extinction — the last thing they need is hundreds of loud oil tankers carrying millions of gallons of dirty oil through their habitat,” said Monsell. “We can’t let what the Exxon Valdez spill did to killer whales off Alaska happen to Southern Residents too.”

In order to authorize the project, the Canadian government must determine that the project is in the public interest. Canada’s National Energy Board issued a report finding the project met that standard in May, but the Governor in Council has yet to make a final decision. A decision is expected in December.


At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive. 

Truss' Tories Plan to Slash Public Spending While Clinging to Chaos-Causing Tax Cuts

"When the IMF tells you, 'hang on guys, this is going to be so bad for inequality it needs a rethink,' you've got a serious problem," one U.K. activist said of the new mini-budget.

Jessica Corbett ·

Sanders, Kaine Hail US Senate's Passage of Brazil Election Resolution

"It is important for the people of Brazil to know we're on their side, on the side of democracy," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. "With passage of this resolution, we are sending that message."

Brett Wilkins ·

Highland Park Victims Sue Gun-Maker, Stores Over Negligence and Deceptive Practices

Lawyers argued that the "shooter was the type of a young consumer susceptible to Smith & Wesson's deceptive and unfair marketing, and was enabled by his father."

Julia Conley ·

NC Dems Plead for Cash as Beasley Deadlocked With GOP Opponent in Decisive US Senate Race

Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley has a one-point lead, but Trump-backed U.S. Rep. Ted Budd is getting more support from the Republican Party.

Kenny Stancil ·

'Yeah, Right': Pentagon Report Claiming US Military Killed Just 12 Civilians Last Year Met With Skepticism

"Once again the confirmed civilian casualty count is below what communities on the ground are reporting," lamented Emily Tripp, director of the monitor group Airwars.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo