Texan company buys out Terasen – no delay in pipeline proposals

Texan company Kinder Morgan’s buy out of gas and pipeline company, Terasen, earlier this month won’t delay the proposed pipelines running from Alberta‘s tar sands to British Columbia‘s west coast. 

That’s bad news for everyone concerned about global warming, about meeting our Kyoto Protocol commitments and about protecting our BC coast and ocean from oil tanker traffic.

In a sadly familiar story of privatization of public assets, Terasen has made the final transition from publicly owned BC Gas to part of a privately owned corporation with headquarters in Houston, Texas. 

The $6.9 billion deal will require Terasen shareholder approval – and that will likely happen before the year is out.

The recent oil spill from Terasen’s pipeline that contaminated creeks and land near Abbotsford doesn’t seem to have put Kinder Morgan off.

In fact, Kinder Morgan Chairman and CEO, Richard D. Kinder, confirmed that they would pursue their pipeline expansion plans when he said, “There is a definite need for additional pipeline infrastructure from the Alberta oilsands.”

Whose need is he talking about?  The need for oil companies to make billions of dollars out of a non-renewable energy source while ignoring the damage to the health of our environment and First Nations’ territories?

The tar sands in Alberta could be the most damaging energy project on the planet. The oil-rich sand is removed from the ground through a giant mining operation that leaves huge holes and toxic tailing ponds that you can see from the moon. The oil is then essentially cooked out of the tar-laced sand.

This process consumes vast amounts of natural gas.  It takes 5 to 10 times more energy, water, and land area to produce oil for tar sands, than conventional methods. That means 5 to 10 times the amount of greenhouse gasses are emitted.

Pipeline expansion in and of itself has environmental consequences. A right-of-way creates a linear slash that runs continuously for hundreds of miles. It becomes an access route for vehicles and usurps natural migratory routes for wildlife. Caribou populations are already declining or even extinct on many of the northern routes.

Pipelines, despite their low profile as a spill risk, have a dreadful performance record. In North America, a pipeline “incident” happens every second day, and someone dies every seventeen days. Almost nothing is more catastrophic, on land or sea, than an oil spill. BC’s last major oil pipeline crisis was on August 1, 2000, in Treaty 8 territory, when the Pine River was awash in oil from a nearby pipeline break.

More critically, however, is a pipeline’s role in enabling or inducing increased exploration and production of fossil fuels. Along with the massive release of greenhouse gases that are the prime cause of the growing climate crisis.

Terasen has two pipeline bids on the table-the “Northern Option” of their Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) proposal-running from Edmonton through Prince George to either Prince Rupert or Kitimat on BC’s central coast. This pipeline would affect a large number of First Nations, including the Carrier-Sekani, Wet’suwet’en, and Gitxsan.

The Southern Option of Terasen’s TMX proposal parallels the existing pipeline route from Edmonton through Kamloops to Vancouver, all of it on First Nations’ land.

A collective response by First Nations has the best chance of limiting the number and scope of pipelines in BC.  (Read more about this here.) Dogwood Initiative is committed to supporting First Nations in this struggle.
  Those Texans won’t know what hit them.

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