Approved or not, environment activists won’t back down against Kinder Morgan

Photo by Shirley Samples

A group of environmental activists have planned to band together month after month against the controversial Kinder Morgan pipeline project, despite the government already putting through their approval.

Climate Change Convergence, a grassroots network of people fighting for climate justice hosted the first of their monthly campaign, ‘IntersActions’, at Broadway-City Hall SkyTrain Station on Jan. 28 to fight against the already government approved Kinder Morgan pipeline project. This day of action is only the first, with more protest days planned for every month and also for National Day of Action for justice, jobs and climate.

The campaign name, ‘IntersAction’, is an action where the individuals flood an intersection on all sides with people crossing on the green light with signs and banners without stopping the flow of traffic to engage with and spread their message out to as many people as possible over the damage to the environment and the economy the Kinder Morgan pipeline project could cause.

“I’m always excited to go out to these things because it’s a great way to take the temperature of the public’s level of opposition or support for Kinder Morgan,” said Eric Lescarbeau, one of the organizers of Climate Change Convergence.

The IntersAction on Saturday was met with a support that was higher than even expected, with a line up for petition signing and the sound of supportive honking from cars driving by.

“It was great and very encouraging. I think it shows with Trudeau’s approval of Kinder Morgan, the opposition has only increased rather than decreased. That’s good because then we know the fight is still on,” Lescarbeau said. “Governments can give permits or give approval, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to get built.”

The Kinder Morgan pipeline is planned to carry crude and refined oil from Alberta to the west coast of British Columbia. The project has been met with an amount of controversial reaction and opposition.

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The project was approved by the Trudeau government late 2016 and then passed Christy Clarks five conditions earlier this month.

The federal government claimed the approval of these projects help the economy with putting the oil on the global market and even to help work towards battling climate change by using the profits towards a green transition.

However, Lescarbeau said the statement of the project helping climate change is a “contradiction in terms.”

“They don’t account for the emissions from all the oil that we’re exporting which is a majority of it,” said Lescarbeau. “Canada doesn’t have a magical bubble around it. If emissions are generated somewhere else from oil that we produced and put on the world market, we’re going to be impacted by that.”

The reason for the IntersActions protests being put on monthly is to further educate and to debunk the claims under approving the pipeline, such as providing jobs.

Lescarbeau said all anyone has to do is look at Alberta and their loss of thousands of jobs over the last years due to the oil crisis to know it doesn’t provide jobs.

“[Oil companies] are constantly being squeezed in trying to compete with much lower costs around the world,” said Lescarbeau. “So, it means a cut to the local governments and to the federal governments. We’re going to have less money for public services, not more.”

In a press conference when approving the project, Trudeau said that there “isn’t a country in the world that would find billions of barrels of oil and leave it in the ground while there is a market for it.”

Despite the push from some against the project, Trudeau said he made the decision for what he believes is the “best interest for Canadians.”

To the Climate Change Convergence and their supporters, the words from the government doesn’t cause lost hope, but only reinforces why they are holding the monthly protests.

Larry Colcy attended the first IntersAction and has become involved with Climate Change Convergence gatherings since November 2016. He chose to march holding a ‘no consent, no pipeline’ banner to make his voice heard on something he has become heavily passionate about.

“This is keeping me awake. Decisions that Justin Trudeau, Christy Clark and Donald Trump are making are keeping me awake at night,” said Colcy. “I can’t do anything about Donald Trump, but I can speak out and try to change things that happening here at home.”

Along with being involved in the monthly protests, there is also a pledge that people can take along with Colcy and Lescarbeau, to be willing to do whatever it takes, whether that’s on the streets, or in the courts.

“People sign that without hesitation. So, I think that there will be people laying in front of bull dozers in Burnaby in the fall with Kinder Morgan as it starts its work. Which, as of right now, that’s what’s going to happen,” said Colcy.

Those like Colcy, who are passionate to be heard, truly believe that actions and protests alike to this make a difference. Having an IntersAction every month, or possibly more, just makes them that much louder.

“I think it works. I think that decision makers have to listen when people are speaking out,” said Colcy. “We do have an election coming up. My purpose is to make the Kinder Morgan pipeline a provincial election issue.”

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