Who will benefit from the proposed Canadian Kinder Morgan pipeline and who will pay the price for its environmental degradation?
Crude tar sands oil, or diluted bitumen, is unlike conventional oil in that it will sink in water in the event of a spill, making clean-up difficult, if not impossible. Tar sands crude is often diluted with benzene, a known carcinogen, to make it transportable through pipelines. The proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline from Alberta, Canada will transport tar sands oil to British Columbia for shipping by tankers through the Salish Sea. These tankers will past north of Orcas Island just over the Canadian border. Tanker traffic will increase seven times over current levels, increasing the possibility of a horrific spill that will have huge economic and environmental impacts. The Kinder Morgan pipeline has received approval from the Canadian national and local authorities although a new government in Victoria may alter course. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has vowed that the pipeline will be built in spite of new government proposals or citizen demands.
However, this is not just a Canadian issue since the waters of the Salish Sea have no political boundaries. Opposition to the pipeline and fossil fuel dependency by citizen groups including Friends of the San Juans through organizations such as Stand Up To Oil, Power Past Coal and Salish Sea Stands is growing (email@example.com). The Coast Protectors of BC, representing First Nations peoples, opposes the pipeline and is in the best position to present a legal challenge (firstname.lastname@example.org). They need our financial and spiritual support to mount this challenge.
Increasing scientific evidence continues to weaken claims by those who deny the impact of fossil fuels on climate change. Continued efforts of the fossil fuel industry such as the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion not only present the possibility of a catastrophic oil spill but undermine the development of a sustainable future. Who benefits and who pays the cost of a degraded environment? A few will gain wealth while the environment and people of Canada and the United States will suffer.