U.S. judge halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

A federal judge in Montana halted construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Thursday on the grounds that the U.S. government did not complete a full analysis of the environmental impact of the TransCanada Corp project.

The ruling deals a major setback for TransCanada Corp and could possibly delay the construction of the $8 billion, 1,180 mile (1,900 km) pipeline.

The ruling is a victory for environmentalists, tribal groups and ranchers who have spent more than a decade fighting against construction of the pipeline that will carry heavy crude to Steele City, Nebraska, from Canada’s oilsands in Alberta.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris’ ruling late on Thursday came in a lawsuit that several environmental groups filed against the U.S. government in 2017, soon after President Donald Trump announced a presidential permit for the project.

Morris wrote in his ruling that a U.S. State Department environmental analysis “fell short of a ‘hard look’” at the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions and the impact on Native American land resources.

He also ruled the analysis failed to fully review the effects of the current oil price on the pipeline’s viability and did not fully model potential oil spills and offer mitigations measures.

In Thursday’s ruling, Morris ordered the government to issue a more thorough environmental analysis before the project can move forward.

“The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can’t ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities,” said the Sierra Club, one of the environmental groups involved in the lawsuit.

Trump supported building the pipeline, which was rejected by former President Barack Obama in 2015 on environmental concerns relating to emissions that cause climate change.

Trump, a Republican, said the project would lower consumer fuel prices, create jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Reuters

[SOURCE]

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Premier calls on N.S. Fishermen to end Blockade of Pipeline Survey Vessel

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s premier says he’s hoping fishermen end a blockade of survey boats hired to examine a route for an undersea effluent pipeline, but he has no plans to extend the company’s deadline.

Stephen McNeil said Thursday he’d advise fishermen to let the seismic research in the Northumberland Strait take place because it’s a lawful activity.

“My hope is that people will allow people to do their jobs. What they (the company) is doing is seismic work …. Then the ongoing public consultation will have to take place as to what will be or wouldn’t be,” the premier said after a cabinet meeting.

However, he also said it’s up the Northern Pulp mill near Pictou, N.S., to decide whether to call in the RCMP to end the blockade.

McNeil said opponents should recognize an environmental review would allow for public debate over a proposed pipeline that would end the use of a waste-water plant located at Boat Harbour.

Still, as fishermen continued a blockade of the harbour mouth they started earlier this week, the timeline for completing the pipeline before a provincially legislated deadline looked increasingly tight.

The province has a requirement of January 2020 for Northern Pulp to stop sending its waste to the First Nation territory.

The normal period of time for an environmental review is close to two months, and work on a potential pipeline would need to begin during construction seasons in 2019 to be complete by early the following year.

The Liberal government has vowed that after half a century of toxic waste — with 70 million litres of treated waste daily still flowing lagoons on the edge of the Pictou Landing First Nation reserve — Northern Pulp must find an alternative.

As the weeks slip by, McNeil said it’s up to the company and the community to figure out a way forward.

“The timeline is tight there’s no question. … It’s up to the company. The company knew the deadline. The community knows the deadline,” said the premier.

“We’ll continue to go out and work with the community, communicate back to the community about public hearings … There are three elected public officials in that area, they can tell me where they stand on the issue … I’ve heard from none of them about it.”

Tory leader Tim Houston, who is one of the three members of the legislature for the area, said that wasn’t true.

The new Progressive Conservative leader said McNeil has forgotten he sent his office a letter calling for a more intensive level of environmental review than has been approved.

Houston said he wants a level 2 environmental review, as has occurred in the planned cleanup of the Boat Harbour lagoon, rather than the level 1 set for the effluent pipeline.

In a class 1 review, the proponent does a large portion of the work to determine the potential impacts of the project. After it is filed with the province, the province will review the application, give the public 30 days to voice any opinion on the project and then make a decision on whether it is approved, conditionally approved or denied.

A class 2 involves a 275-day timeline that requires a full public hearing and involves a panel of external environmental experts.

Houston said as it stands, the community has lost confidence in the process, and this is why fishermen are blocking the harbour.

“The blockade is a byproduct of the government’s failure to say it’s going to properly scrutinize the project. Fishers are worried,” he said.

The group of Northumberland Strait fishermen have said they will block any survey boats from entering the strait by placing their own vessels in its path.

Fisherman Mike Noel, one of the spokesmen for the group, said there were no boats blocking the harbour on Thursday due to rough weather, but they can respond quickly if a survey vessel tries to use the port.

Noel said there are no plans to change course based on the premier’s comments, as the strait’s ecosystem is at stake.

“He (Stephen McNeil) hasn’t had any conversation with us, so no, we have no thoughts to stop anyway until we have some conversation with the government anyway,” he said.

A spokesperson for Paper Excellence Canada, the Richmond, B.C., company which owns the pulp mill, has said the survey data would be of interest to various parties, and that it will work with authorities to ensure the safety of all involved.

The company has stated publicly a number of times that there are no other viable options than an undersea pipeline for large mills like the one it operates, and said it believes the treated effluent would not damage the fisheries in the strait.

Paper Excellence has also said the mill and its 300 employees will be out of work unless it can build a pipeline to the strait.

By Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Indigenous Mexican farmers fight giant gas pipeline

  • TransCanada is building a gas pipeline in southern Mexico that’s threatening to cast indigenous communities off their land. But some are refusing to yield to the pressure to leave and are taking their fight to court.

Article originally published by DW.com

As Dona Maura Aparicio Torres finished planting her corn, she saw a man walking through her field. He trampled over her plants, took photographs and scribbled in a notebook as he approached her house.

A few days later, he was back. This time, he came with a demand that she give him the paperwork for her land. “We’re going to build a pipeline here,” he told her. That was in May 2017.

Two years earlier, the Canadian company TransCanada won the contract to build the Tuxpan-Tula pipeline, a 287-kilometer (178-mile) structure that will run across four states in southern Mexico to the Gulf of Mexico. The state energy authorities had approved the pipeline, as part of reforms begun under Mexico’s former president, Pena Nieto.

Much of the structure has already been built, apart from the final 90-kilometer stretch that runs through the village of Chila de Juarez and intersects the field where Torres grows corn and peanuts.

Resisting the state

“Our harvest is the most valuable thing we have,” says Torres, who was born into the Otomi indigenous community in Chila de Juarez. She still lives in the area with her husband and three children, in a house she bought from her mother-in-law. She sees no alternative but to stand up for what is hers.

“I don’t know where I would go if I lost my land,” she told DW.

A number of indigenous communities have joined forces to fight the pipeline. The sign here reads: ‘Say no to the gas pipeline. We’re an indigenous community and demand respect’

She is now part of a protest movement led and advised by a regional council of indigenous peoples in the states of Puebla and Hidalgo. The group was formed to share information and join forces in their claims against TransCanada.

Spokeswoman Oliveria Montes says a feeling of mistrust reigns — toward the company, the state and even neighbors.

“As soon as one person in the community sells their land, the neighbors thinks they have to sell theirs too,” she told DW.

Part of what the indigenous council does, she says, is to explain that people who are promised money to leave their land often never see a cent.

Torres received an offer of money on one of the many return visits she received from the man who had trampled her plants. When she asked him how much was on the table, he refused to name a figure. “We’ll resettle you,” he told her. “Where?” she asked. His response was another demand that she hand over the paperwork for her land. She refused.

He left his telephone number and a threat to build on the land whether she moved or not. She never called. And for the time being at least, she is still there.

A temporary reprieve

At the end of 2017, construction on the pipeline was paused following a complaint filed by the indigenous council. The case, which involves Chila de Juarez and four other communities, is now in court because before such a mega-project can be built the Mexican energy ministry must assess its impacts on the environment and residents.

While the ministry did produce such an impact report, the council questions its findings. According to Raymundo Espinoza Hernandez, a lawyer representing the council, 459 communities and 260,000 people would be affected by the construction, but the ministry assessment “only made mention of 11 communities,” he says.

TransCanada is also building other pipelines in Mexico, including the Tamazunchale pipeline extension (pictured) which runs through some of the country’s most mountainous terrain

When asked to comment, TransCanada said its subsidiary Transportadora de Gas Natural de la Huasteca (TGNH) was responsible for the Tuxpan-Tula pipeline. The same company that employs the man Torres found traipsing across her property.

TransCanada also said it knew nothing of appropriation of land in indigenous communities and does not support moving people off their land without prior consultation and consent. It concluded that it was ultimately up to the Mexican government to decide whether construction could proceed or not.

A charged atmosphere

TransCanada is under pressure. The company wants the pipeline to be up and running at the beginning of 2019. It’s part of a larger network that would eventually see natural gas flowing from Brownsville in Texas to Tuxpan and Tula in the heart of Mexico. And it’s already come under fire in the United States for the Keystone pipeline, which runs through Native American land.

So far, the delays on the pipeline as a result of resistance have pushed its costs up by a third to almost €347 million ($400 million) and Espinoza is worried that will have a negative impact on those standing in the way.

“They’ll play the communities off against each other,” the lawyer said. “If the company can’t continue with legal means, they’ll use violence to force their way into the communities.”

Torres shares his fears. “I’m afraid they’ll destroy me,” she said.

Dona Maura Aparicio Torres and her husband don’t want to leave their land nestled below the holy mountain of the Otomi people. They say they don’t know what they would do without it.

Immovable mountain

Her husband, Salvador Murcia Escalera stands among young peanut plants with a pick in his hand. He spent 14 years working as a hired hand on a plantation in California so he could send money back home. He returned when his wife called him to say her land was under threat.

“The land gives us everything,” says Torres. And she doesn’t want to see that taken away from her. She also worries that the holy mountain of the Otomi people could be blown apart to facilitate the pipeline, as has already happened in other communities.

She looks up at the mountain into which her land nestles. Legend has it that a young man called Margarito once climbed to the top, and was so tired on arrival that he laid down to sleep and never returned. The Otomi in Chila de Juarez worship him as a rain God, taking sheep, beans and corn to the mountain for him. Just like Margarito, Torres never wants to leave.

[SOURCE]

Trans Mountain CEO says pipe construction could restart in 2019 on NEB timeline

CALGARY — The president and CEO of Trans Mountain Corp. says its sidelined pipeline project could be back on track by next year under a new National Energy Board hearing schedule, setting it up for a possible 2022 opening date.

The timeline unveiled by the federal pipeline regulator on Wednesday is “reasonable and fair,” said Ian Anderson, the former CEO of Kinder Morgan Canada who became head of the resulting Crown corporation when Ottawa closed its $4.5-billion purchase of the pipeline and its expansion project in early September.

He told reporters in Calgary it’s possible construction that was halted when the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the expansion project’s NEB approval in late August could be restarted in 2019.

“Sure, it’s possible,” he said. “If things go according to the timeline that’s been now started with the NEB and they have a recommendation by the middle of February and the government takes a few months for additional consultation, an order-in-council could be as early as next summer.”

He added construction is expected to take about 30 months, depending upon seasonal adjustments, which would mean the pipeline could be operational in 2022, about two years later than the most recent predicted in-service date.

The federal government approved the Trans Mountain expansion project in November 2016, following a recommendation by the NEB.

But the court cited insufficient consultation with Indigenous communities and a failure to assess the environmental impact of additional oil-tanker traffic in overturning that ruling.

Last week, the federal government ordered the NEB to go back and conduct a review of tanker traffic, paying special attention to the affect on killer whales, and issue its report no later than Feb. 22.

Environmentalists were quick to criticize the NEB’s schedule, which calls for public comments by next Wednesday on draft factors for the environmental assessment, the draft list of issues to be considered in the hearing and on the design of the hearing process itself.

Indigenous groups who are affected by the marine shipping issues but weren’t allowed to engage in the previous NEB process because of scope limits might have a difficult time preparing submissions in time, said Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada.

“Indigenous consultations are inextricably intertwined with review of marine impacts — orcas have important cultural significance — so charging ahead on this before sorting out the Indigenous consultation piece seems like a mistake,” he added.

Furthermore, the process is tainted by the fact that the government insists the project it now owns will be built no matter what, Stewart said.

The expansion will include a new pipeline running roughly parallel to the existing, 1,150-kilometre line that carries refined and unrefined oil products from the Edmonton area to Burnaby, B.C.

It will nearly triple the capacity to 890,000 barrels a day.

The NEB named Lyne Mercier, Alison Scott and Murray Lytle to the panel that will conduct its reconsideration of the project.

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

 

 

‘Major Victory’: Landowner’s Legal Challenge Halts Construction of Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana

Faced with a new state law that effectively criminalized peaceful protests of pipelines, activists have put their bodies and freedom on the line to oppose the Bayou Bridge project in Louisiana. (Photo: L’eau Est La Vie Camp/Facebook)

By Jessica Corbett

In a “major victory” for local landowners and pipeline activists who are fighting to block the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana, the company behind the project agreed to halt construction on a patch of private property just ahead of a court hearing that was scheduled for Monday morning.

The path of the 163-mile pipeline runs through Atchafalaya Basin, the nation’s largest wetland and swamp. Local landowners and activists have raised alarm about the threat the pipeline poses to regional water resources, wildlife, and communities.

“We have been tased, pepper sprayed, put into choke holds, and beaten with batons to stop this illegal construction that ETP was carrying out despite not having an easement for the land.”  —L’eau Est La Vie Camp

Peter Aaslestad, one of several co-owners of undeveloped marshland, filed an injunction in July alleging that the Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) was clearing trees and trenching on his property without permission. ETP—which is also behind the hotly contested Dakota Access Pipeline—claims it has the right to the use property through expropriation, a process used to take private land for public benefit.

Monday’s agreement “essentially gives us everything we would have asked for with [the injunction] request and argued for in our hearing,” Misha Mitchell, a lawyer for Aaslestad and Atchafalaya Basinkeeperexplained in a Facebook video. “The company has voluntarily agreed to cease entering onto the property and to stop all construction activities on the property.”

A court hearing for the expropriation battle is scheduled for Nov. 27, meaning the company will not meet its initial deadline of completing construction by October.

“This represents a significant victory for the conservation of the Atchafalaya Basin and for the rights of private landowners who lawfully resist their property being seized for private gain,” Aaslestad said in a statement.

A collective of activists fighting against the pipeline—who have created the L’eau Est La Vie (Water Is Life) floating resistance camp—celebrated the agreement as validation of their ongoing efforts to kill the project.

“We have been tased, pepper sprayed, put into choke holds, and beaten with batons to stop this illegal construction that ETP was carrying out despite not having an easement for the land,” the group wrote on Facebook Monday. “While this is a major victory, construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline continues in other parts of the Atchafalaya Basin. We won’t stop until completely shut down the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.”

Protests have continued even as state lawmakers have enacted legislation that effectively criminalizes peaceful protests of “critical infrastructure,” including pipeline projects. Last month, as Common Dreams reported, three kayaktivists who oppose Bayou Bridge were detained by private security, then arrested and charged with felonies under the new law.

The Times-Picayune reports that “at least 12 activists protesting the pipeline on Aaslestad’s property have been arrested” under the law, which took effect Aug. 1, but the district attorney “has not yet decided whether to prosecute the protesters.”

Bill Quigley, a Loyola University law professor who is volunteering as an attorney for the protesters, said they were all detained by private security before being arrested, explaining that “because they were on private property at the invitation of the owner, it’s not clear that [ETP] had any right to do what they were doing, or have people arrested.”

Published on September 10, 2018 by 

Fishing boats converge on Nova Scotia harbour as part of effluent pipe protest

Fishing boats pass the Northern Pulp mill as concerned residents, fishermen and Indigenous groups protest the mill's plan to dump millions of litres of effluent daily into the Northumberland Strait in Pictou, N.S., on Friday, July 6, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

Fishing boats pass the Northern Pulp mill as concerned residents, fishermen and Indigenous groups protest the mill’s plan to dump millions of litres of effluent daily into the Northumberland Strait in Pictou, N.S., on Friday, July 6, 2018. (CP/Andrew Vaughan)

Dozens of fishing boats steamed towards a hulking pulp mill in northern Nova Scotia on Friday, marking the climax of a boisterous demonstration that saw more than 1,000 protesters call on the mill’s owners to scuttle a plan to dump millions of litres of effluent a day into the Northumberland Strait.

Chanting “No pipe, no way!” a long line of marchers streamed onto the pier of a sun-drenched marina in Pictou, which is directly across the town’s harbour from the massive Northern Pulp mill.

A fishermen’s group estimated that about 200 boats were part of the flotilla that sailed into the breezy, choppy harbour around 1 p.m., then circled back to the marina as a protest rally got underway.

Though the kraft pulp mill provides much-needed jobs for the town of about 3,000 residents, its pipeline plan has raised concerns about the impact on the lobster fishery, other seafood businesses and protected areas along the coast.

After years of pumping 70 million litres of treated wastewater daily into lagoons on the edge of the nearby Pictou Landing First Nation reserve, Northern Pulp wants to dump it directly into the strait.

The mill’s parent company, Paper Excellence based in Richmond, B.C., has said the mill and its 300 employees will be out of work unless it can build a pipeline that would meet all federal environmental standards: “The bottom line is no pipe equals no mill.”

Kathy Cloutier, a spokeswoman for Paper Excellence, said in a statement that of the 131 kraft mills operating in North America, about 20 per cent use a system like the one proposed for the mill at Abercrombie Point. The remaining 80 per cent use a system similar to the lagoon system now in use.

Cloutier said options are limited, as no other effluent systems are used in either the U.S. or Canada.

“Northern Pulp has thoroughly investigated treatment options available,” Cloutier said. “This $70-million project will considerably reduce the need for bleaching chemicals by 30 to 40 per cent to whiten the pulp as it progresses through the system.”

Nonetheless, Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul said her people’s fight against the mill isn’t over.

“There have been many people working tirelessly for years to bring this to the forefront,” she said after stepping from one of the fishing boats in the harbour.

“This is not going to end today. We will continue to be on this water because we have a duty to protect all that lives in the water.”

Concerned residents, fishermen and Indigenous groups protest a pulp mill’s plan to dump millions of litres of effluent daily into the Northumberland Strait in Pictou, N.S on Friday, July 6, 2018. (CP/Andrew Vaughan)

Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan told the crowd that the province’s decision to conduct a Class 1 environmental assessment wasn’t good enough. He wants a federal environmental assessment.

“The town of Pictou will continue to take the firm position that protection of the fishing industry is paramount,” he said, sunshine glinting off the large chain of office around his neck.

Earlier in the day, P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan issued a statement saying he had written to federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil to express his concerns about the potential impact on the ecosystem of the Northumberland Strait.

“Given the amount of time that has passed and fresh uncertainty about the Northern Pulp proposal, I believe there is now an opportunity to take a more fully collaborative approach,” the letter says.

Under provincial legislation passed in 2015, the mill has until 2020 to replace its current treatment plant in nearby Boat Harbour, and McNeil confirmed Thursday he is sticking with that deadline.

He said he didn’t know much about the protest, adding that he wasn’t surprised by the reaction to the pipeline proposal.

“Any time there’s a development, there will be those who have opposing views, and they are polarizing at times,” McNeil said after he shuffled his cabinet Thursday, appointing a new environment minister in the process.

Before the protest got underway in Pictou, Nova Scotia NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the province should abandon its plans to conduct a Class 1 assessment and instead order a more stringent Class 2 assessment.

If that doesn’t happen, then the federal government should be approached to conduct a comprehensive review, he said.

“Either of these would accomplish the goal of having entirely trustworthy information in front of everybody,” Burrill said.

He also called attention the mill’s spotty environmental record as its ownership has changed hands several times since it opened in 1967.

The lagoons contain nearly 50 years worth of toxic waste, which former Nova Scotia environment minister Iain Rankin has called one of the worst cases of environmental racism in Canada.

In February, groups representing fishermen in Nova Scotia, P.E.I., and New Brunswick suspended further meetings with the mill after voicing frustration over its insistence on a pipe.

Earlier this month, the company said the proposed route of a pipeline would be changed to avoid potential ice damage. That means the company has delayed filing its environmental assessment with the province.

The mill generates over $200 million annually for the provincial economy by making 280,000 tonnes of kraft pulp annually, primarily for tissue, towel, toilet and photo copy paper.

The Canadian Press 

[SOURCE]

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Approves Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project

According to Enbridge, the multibillion-dollar Line 3 replacement represents the largest project in the company’s history. Here, contractors work near Superior, Wis. MPR News

Minnesota regulators have approved Enbridge’s proposal to replace its Line 3 pipeline across the northern part of the state.

According to media reports, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the $9-billion Enbridge Line 3 replacement project on Thursday afternoon.

MPR News says the decision came with several conditions, including a decommissioning trust fund to ensure the new pipeline will be retired responsibly decades from now. Enbridge will also be required to follow through on a promise to landowners to remove portions of the old Line 3 upon request.

The Globe and Mail reports, a narrow 3-2 decision approved Enbridge’s preferred route for the pipeline, south of the existing corridor, with only slight modifications, meaning the company dodges the potential for lengthy delays and added costs of alternatives.

Indigenous tribes and environmental groups vowed immediately to appeal the decision and maintain their resistance to the project.

In a sign of potential clashes ahead, the commission was interrupted midway through Thursday’s deliberations in St. Paul, Minn., by shouts that it had “declared war on the Ojibwe.”

Native american activists and environmentalists oppose the project, saying it’s unnecessary and would risk spills in pristine areas of the state.

Line 3 also requires 29 additional permits from local, state and federal levels, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said in a statement. “Approvals are by no means assured,” he said.

Appeals of the commission’s decisions go to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The Minnesota Legislature also could intervene when it reconvenes next year. Dayton vetoed a bill last session that would have let Enbridge bypass the commission and proceed with replacing Line 3. But voters will elect a new governor and a new Legislature in November.

The total length of the Line 3 replacement is 1,031-mile (1,660-km) from Alberta in western Canada to Wisconsin.

Spill at Trans Mountain pipeline station in B.C. larger than initially reported

A spill from Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline late last month was 48 times larger than initially reported, officials said.

The spill volume reported from the company’s Darfield station north of Kamloops on May 27 was revised to 4,800 litres from 100 litres, the B.C. Ministry of Environment said Sunday.

It said 100 litres is the minimum threshold under the company’s spill reporting obligations, so that’s why the ministry estimated 100 litres at the time.

Trans Mountain spokeswoman Ali Hounsell said the company didn’t tell regulators how much medium crude oil escaped at the time of the spill.

“Trans Mountain had not provided an estimate of the volume spilled, other than to confirm with regulators that it was over the reportable threshold, until cleanup had sufficiently progressed to a stage where an accurate estimation could be provided,” she said in an e-mail.

Following an on-site investigation, she said Trans Mountain has provided the updated volume estimate to regulators.

Trans Mountain is in the final stages of completing the cleanup, she said.

Under British Columbia’s spill reporting regulation, Trans Mountain was required to report the spill immediately. The regulation says the quantity spilled should be among the information included in that report, “to the extent practical.”

The company turned off the pipeline for several hours the day of the spill, which the ministry said came from a leaking flow metre.

The spill was contained to the station property and no waterways were affected, the ministry said.

Two days later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government will spend $4.5-billion to buy the Trans Mountain expansion and Kinder Morgan Canada’s core assets.

Kinder Morgan had ceased all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain expansion in April, vowing to cancel it unless it received assurances it can proceed without delays and without undue risk to shareholders by a deadline of May 31.

After the federal government’s announcement, the company said work would be restarted soon, with the government funding construction. The sale is expected to close in the second half of the year.

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

B.C. judge expands Trans Mountain injunction as protesters use ’calculated’ defiance

Burnaby RCMP arrested several protesters for violating a court injunction that prohibits them from entering within five metres of a Kinder Morgan work site.

Anti-pipeline protesters have made a calculated effort to blockade two Trans Mountain work sites in Burnaby, says a British Columbia Supreme Court judge who expanded his injunction to include equipment facilities and other locations involving the controversial project.

Justice Kenneth Affleck said Friday he would have some sympathy for people opposed to Trans Mountain’s application to vary his March 15 order prohibiting protests within a five-metre buffer zone, but an abundance of evidence indicates people have found ways to get around it and stop police from making arrests.

“In my view, the clear attempt to frustrate the injunction is not acceptable and there needs to be a means by this court to determine that its orders are respected,” Affleck said.

Those opposed have every right to protest, he said.

“They have a right to make their views known in a way that captures the attention of the world, if they wish to do so, but they are not entitled to block what is lawful activity.”

Dozens of protesters have been arrested since protests escalated last November. Many of those have appeared before Affleck this week to plead guilty to criminal contempt of court for violating the injunction and to pay fines or commit to community service. Others have yet to make court appearances.

Trans Mountain lawyer Maureen Killoran told Affleck that protesters have used a “workaround” to flout the injunction, which applied to the Burnaby Terminal and the Westridge Marine Terminal.

Killoran said affidavits from two witnesses indicate protesters have been bent on maximizing disruption at the two construction sites by “tag teaming” to avoid arrest after police read them the injunction order and gave them a 10-minute warning.

She read Facebook posts of a group called the Justin Trudeau Brigade, which urges protesters to leave a blockade just before the warning time is up as they are replaced by another group and police have to read the injunction order again and the process repeats.

Killoran said an RCMP officer’s affidavit outlines how protesters at the Burnaby work sites have taken advantage of the 10-minute warning period and slowed down the enforcement process, resulting in fewer arrests, more work for police, and no repercussions for protesters.

“This is the mischief we are here to address,” Killoran said, adding protest organizers are committed to stopping Trans Mountain trucks from entering construction sites and aim to blockade other locations where the company might store equipment or have contractors working on the project.

She said activists have also climbed on top of a tunnel boring machine at a storage facility in Delta, B.C., so the injunction must be extended beyond the Burnaby work sites.

Affleck granted Trans Mountain’s request to enforce the five-metre injunction in other areas as well as allowing the company to post warning signs 10 metres from work sites.

Neil Chantler, a lawyer for one of 15 defendants named in a notice of civil claim, called Trans Mountain’s request to expand the injunction too broad and said the company was being hypothetical in assuming people would protest beyond Burnaby but had evidence only on the incident at the Delta facility.

“Trans Mountain is trying to get a carte blanche order that it may wield in the future wherever it chooses, much to the detriment and uncertainty of the general public,” Chantler said.

However, Killoran said there is nothing hypothetical about Trans Mountain’s intention to protect its work sites while continuing a project that the federal government has approved.

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Liberal government to buy Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion

Finance Minister Bill Morneau arrives at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 29, 2018.

The Federal Liberal government is spending $4.5 billion to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan.

The deal includes all of Kinder Morgan Canada’s core assets. The purchase ensures that the Trans Mountain pipeline, which carries oil from Alberta to the west coast of British Columbia will begin a planned expansion this summer.

According to CBC News, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced details of the agreement reached with Kinder Morgan at a news conference with Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr this morning.

Morneau said the project is in the national interest, and proceeding with it will preserve jobs, reassure investors and get resources to world markets. He could not say exactly what additional costs will be incurred by the Canadian public to build the expansion, but suggested a toll paid by oil companies could offset some costs and that there would be a financial return on the investment.

The purchase price does not include the construction costs of the Trans Mountain expansion so the final bill to Canadian taxpayers will be significantly higher once labour and materials are included.

Kinder Morgan had estimated the cost of building the expansion would be $7.4 billion, but Morneau insisted that the project will not have a fiscal impact, or “hit.”

Alberta will also provide emergency funding to cover unforeseen costs.

The government does not intend to be a long-term owner, and at the appropriate time, the government will work with investors to transfer the project and related assets to a new owner or owners.

However, Kinder Morgan will be paid regardless of whether a new suitor is found.

Until then, the pipeline project will proceed under the ownership of a Crown corporation.

The agreement, which must still be approved by Kinder Morgan’s shareholders, is expected to close in August.