Saturday, November 22, 2014

Burnaby BC and environmental activists fight to protect Burnaby Mountain

Both the city of Burnaby BC just outside of Vancouver along with environmental activists are joining battle against Kinder Morgan

Kinder Morgan intends to expand the Trans Mountain bitumen export pipeline so as to triple its capacity. This would require adding many storage tanks to their present storage facility at Burnaby Mountain. However, another factor that concerns environmentalists is that it would increase oil tanker traffic through the Burrard Inlet by four to six times what it is now, increasing the likelihood of a disastrous oil spill. A National Energy Board (NEB) decision granted Kinder Morgan access to the Burnaby Mountain municipal conservation area. The city plans to appeal the ruling. The city has tried to block the company from doing survey work in the Burnaby Mountain conservancy for the route preferred by the company for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The Energy Board ruling claims that the geotechnical work in the area is necessary to provide the data to the Board to make recommendations to the government about whether the project should proceed. Derek Corrigan, the mayor of Burnaby questions the Board's legal authority to over-rule municipal bylaws. Corrigan said: "We are disappointed but not surprised by this ruling. We believe that it is inappropriate for the National Energy Board to rule on the critical constitutional issue of whether a multinational pipeline company can override municipal bylaws and cause damage to a conservation area, for a project that no level of government has deemed to be in the public interest." The city lawyer Greg McDade claims that the power to rule on municipal laws and enforcement powers does not exist in the National Energy Board Act and has never been claimed before by any federal tribunal.
 The Board however claims that it does have the power to override municipal bylaws. The NEB order prohibits Burnaby from attempting to enforce any bylaw blocking the Kinder Morgan work but ruled that Kinder Morgan must give the city 24 hours notice of work in advance and also repair any damage its work causes.This is the first time the National Energy Board has issued an order indicating what a municipality must do. Both sides are launching court battles, with Kinder Morgan managing to get a court injunction against protesters who were blocking workers from carrying out their drilling on the mountain.
 Thursday morning police swept in shortly after 8 AM after deciding to arrest anyone not obeying the court injunction. By 9:45 it was reported that at least ten people were arrested with at least one being a First Nations member. The RCMP have forced journalists and witnesses far away. There is an arrest-free area cordoned off by police. The people there are requesting community members to come to the site. As this short clip shows, the police were not always restrained in treatment of some protesters. The incident would appear to be the same as described here: A middle-aged female who was in front of the line was tossed to the ground behind police and was quickly arrested."Hey, that's violence," a protester yelled at police as the woman slammed onto the road. An RCMP tweet claimed that 26 people in all were arrested but that only five remained in custody by Thursday evening. Many were released after being cited for civil contempt. They were required to promise not to interfere, obstruct or impede survey crews.
There is still one ongoing protest a ceremonial First Nations fire remained burning throughout the day tended by a group of women. RCMP Staff Sgt. Major John Buis said: A ceremonial First Nations' fire remained burning throughout the day. A pair of RCMP officers sat down and spoke to a group of women who were tending the fire in the afternoon."We are in discussions with First Nations on how to respectfully remove a sacred fire and totem pole that remain inside the zone in contravention of the order." The government, has recently passed extensive anti-terror legislation. The RCMP has warned that environmentalists are a greater threat to Canada's energy system than jihadists. The climate is being prepared in which any militant actions by environmentalists can be treated as terrorist acts and no doubt dealt with using the powers of the new anti-terror laws. Conservative legislation has "streamlined" approval processes in the Conservative view or "gutted" them in the opinion of environmentalists. Under whatever description, the legislation is a move to prevent environmentalists from slowing up approval or even blocking approval of projects. Marc Eliesen former head of BC hydro recently withdrew from Kinder Morgan hearings calling them a farce and a waste of his time. Having successfully blocked legal ways of stopping development the Conservative government will now see to it that any illegal attempts by environmentalists to stop projects can be dealt with using powerful and punitive anti-terror legislation.

No comments: