Activists appeal to Gov. Inslee to seek federal opposition to Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline expansionActivists Call Attention To Risks To Southern Resident Orcas, Climate During Obama's Visit To Seattle
SEATTLE, WASH. – Friends of the Earth sent a letter to Governor Jay Inslee today from eight environmental organizations and accompanied by more than 35,000 supporting letters, urging him to inform Canadian officials of Washington State’s opposition to the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.
On May 18, 2016 the National Energy Board of Canada recommended that Prime Minister Trudeau approve Kinder Morgan’s proposal in its report on the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion despite the Board’s finding “that the operation of Project-related marine vessels would likely result in significant adverse effects to the Southern resident killer whale.”
“If Canada approves the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline it will be the final harpoon in the backs of the Salish Sea’s endangered Orcas,” said Fred Felleman, Northwest consultant for Friends of the Earth and Seattle Port Commissioner.
“The increased likelihood of a catastrophic oil spill associated with the tankers exporting Canadian tar sands oil from the proposed pipeline expansion presents unacceptable risks to the environment, economy and cultural heritage of Washington State,” added Marcie Keever, Friends of the Earth’s oceans and vessels program director.
If approved, the number of oil tankers passing through the trans-boundary waters of the Salish Sea would increase seven-fold — from an average of one per week to more than one per day. The route these tankers travel through in Washington’s waters overlaps the core critical habitat of the endangered Southern resident orca. Not only does the Trans Mountain project increase the likelihood of an oil spill, but the tankers would carry tar sands-derived crude oil (diluted bitumen or dilbit) that poses unique challenges to oil spill recovery due to its propensity to sink.
On June 16, 2016 the Squamish Nation filed a lawsuit against the NEB challenging the Trans Mountain project approval. In a press release, Chief Ian Campbell stated, “The Squamish Nation is stunned that the NEB has recommended that the Kinder Morgan expansion project be approved by the federal government — without first properly consulting the Squamish Nation on the impacts of the project on its aboriginal rights and title. Nor assessing the project through a real environmental assessment process.” In addition, four U.S. Tribes — the Lummi, Swinomish, Tulalip, and Suquamish — intervened in the National Energy Board proceeding to provide testimony about the significant interference with treaty-protected fishing that the project would cause, and the existential threat posed by oil spill risks.
Since then the City of Vancouver in British Columbia and two Canadian NGOs have filed their own legal actions against the Board for its failure to adequately characterize the risks posed by this project.
Despite the fact that the oil tankers will pass through the San Juan Islands in U.S. waters, moving more oil than the Keystone XL pipeline, the U.S. and Washington State governments do not have the authority to veto the decision whether to approve the Trans Mountain expansion project like there was for the defeated Keystone XL project.
“We need to help our Canadian neighbors to stop Kinder Morgan by pushing the Governor, Congress and other regional decision-makers to convince the Canadian federal government not to go through with it. We all need to stand up for orcas and our climate and oppose the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion,” concluded Keever.