Pipeline projects, the pandemic and the question journalists fail to ask | Unpublished

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Pipeline projects, the pandemic and the question journalists fail to ask

May 11, 2020

While the pandemic marches on, it's another workday at Burnaby Terminal, the oil storage "tank farm" that is being doubled in density as part of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project (TMX). Large vehicles rumble inside the compound and through the electronically controlled perimeter gate. The clatter of heavy machinery resounds through the nearby forest and neighbourhoods. Large signs warn obstructing access to this facility could result in arrest — the fate of hundreds of Indigenous-led land, water and climate protectors in 2018. A smaller sign, next to the guardhouse and gate, says, "Social distancing, where possible, while at (company) sites."

"Where possible." That's a big caveat. Maintaining a two-metre distance in construction sites is often not possible.

While thousands of B.C. businesses have closed, schools and libraries gather dust and millions of British Columbians are urged to stay at home — all for good reason — fossil fuel-related expansion projects continue as if they are "essential services." Both Trans Mountain and LNG Canada (a consortium of foreign corporations) boast they are meeting significant milestones on their respective projects. 

TMX would convey toxic diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to the Westridge harbour terminal in Burnaby. LNG Canada's Coastal GasLink (CGL) would bring liquefied "natural" gas from the fracking fields through (as is now notorious) Wet'suwet'en territory to the northern B.C. town of Kitimat.

Significant health concerns have been raised about both projects, as well as BC Hydro's Site C hydroelectric dam in the province’s north. Though publicly touted as "green" energy, it is partly intended to provide subsidized electricity to LNG Canada and carries enormous environmental costs of its own, from methane emissions to flooding of Treaty 8 Indigenous territories and some of Canada's richest farmland.