As Forest Fires Rage – Money for Housing, Education, and Healthcare Not Pipelines!
No New Pipelines in a Climate Emergency! Stop TMX!
Climate Convergence Statement
July 29, 2023
By mid-June 2023, thousands of out of control forest fires across Canada had already burned 59,000 square kilometers. Tens of thousands of people had been forced to leave their homes and communities. A thick smoke and poor air quality covered much of Canada and parts of the United States. This fire season, not even half-over, is already the most destructive on record.
It is no coincidence that an increase in devastating forest fires in Canada has come at the same time as record high global temperatures and increasing climate chaos. Hotter overall temperatures and more drought, as well as the forest pests and diseases that thrive in these conditions, mean more fuel for fires to burn.
Despite the smoke that covered Ottawa and Parliament Hill, the Trudeau Liberal government continues to close their eyes and maintain their business-as-usual policies of climate destruction. This willful and criminal ignorance can be seen most clearly in their continued push to build the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX).
If built, the TMX pipeline will:
- Triple the amount of dirty tar-sands bitumen transported from Alberta to the coast of BC to 890,000 barrels per day. Bitumen is notoriously dirty and carbon-intensive to produce. According to the Sightline Institute, “producing the oil to fill TMX to capacity would release the equivalent of at least 15 million metric tons of CO2 annually. That’s more than the annual emissions of 125 countries, including Panama, Senegal, Uruguay, and Tanzania.”
- Propel continued expansion of the tar sands in Alberta. National Geographic describes the open-pit mining of Bitumen North of Fort McMurray, along the Athabasca River as, “one of the world’s largest collections of tailings waste ponds—able to fill more than 500,000 Olympic swimming pools. These are so toxic, ducks and other birds have to be prevented from going near them…Air pollution, including acid rain, also plagues the remote region. One study found that acid rain would eventually damage an area almost the size of Germany”
- Increase the number of tankers in the Burrard Inlet from five per month to 34 per month. This increased tanker traffic will cause severe harm to the already endangered Southern resident orcas as well as other marine life due to the increased noise. Increased tanker traffic also brings with it a higher risk of spills, and a bitumen would be devastating.
- Add 14 new tanks to the Burnaby Mountain tank farm and put more than 45,000 people living and going to school on Burnaby Mountain at further risk for a deadly fire. A 2015 report from the City of Burnaby Fire Department outlined many potentially deadly scenarios on Burnaby Mountain, including flammable crude leaks, poisonous gases, fires burning for days, and exploding tanks spraying molten crude, igniting other nearby tanks and the wildfires spreading from the tank farm. A previously suppressed report commissioned by the National Energy Board (NEB), uncovered in 2019, revealed that Trans Mountain’s plans for dealing with a fire emergency would see a response team arriving at least six hours after an emergency took place.
The Trudeau Liberal government has not only put an enormous burden on Indigenous nations, communities, and vital ecosystems in the path of the TMX pipeline, but also an overwhelming financial debt burden on people in Canada. The TMX pipeline was bought with tax-payers money, and despite hollow promises from Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland that “no additional public money will be invested,” the debt will fall on the shoulders of people in Canada.
In March 2023 the Trans Mountain Corporation (TMC), a Crown corporation, announced that the costs of construction for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX) project have sky-rocketed to an outrageous $30.9 billion. This represents a $10 billion increase from the last time construction costs were announced in 2022. It is a 300% increase from estimated costs in 2018, when the federal Liberal government first bought the climate destroying TMX pipeline project and the existing Trans Mountain pipeline. At the end of June 2023, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN), whose land is crossed by the TMX pipeline, filed an application to be an intervenor in the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) hearing regarding the tolls on the TMX pipeline. TWN found that the tolls, which are the fees per barrel that oil companies will pay to use the TMX pipeline, will only cover 48% of the construction costs. The Trudeau Liberal government is lying when they continue to claim that TMX will bring profits. TMX will only bring debt to the people of Canada who are already struggling more and more each day to make ends meet.
TMX is just one example of how the government of Canada continues to support the multibillionaires in the oil and gas industry boasting record profits, rather than provide adequate social services, healthcare, housing, and education for people in Canada. When the government of Canada puts profits, pipeline and environmental destruction before meeting the basic needs of people poor, working, and oppressed people, especially Indigenous and racialized people are most impacted.
However, TMX pipeline continues to face vigorous opposition from environmental activists and organizations and Indigenous nations whose territory it crosses. Due to this opposition, and to climate-fueled fires, floods, and landslides, TMX is now more then ten-years behind schedule.
In March 2023 the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their Synthesis Report from their Sixth Assessment period. This report stated that “Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health. There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.” It concluded that it is likely that global warming will exceed 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels during the 21st century, and further detailed the devastating impact that this temperature rise will have on humanity and the planet.
From TMX, to the government of Canada’s approval of the Bay du Nord offshore oil drilling project, to the massive handouts to oil and gas companies to invest in unproven carbon capture adventures, the Liberal government of Canada is committed to climate destruction.
We have no choice but to fight back! We must work to build a more united and stronger movement for climate justice and Indigenous rights. In British Columbia, this means organizing, educating, and mobilizing against TMX, against the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory in Northern British Columbia, and continuing to unite our voices with the cross-Canada and international climate justice movement.
System Change, Not Climate Change!