Kinder Morgan has unacceptable public health risks both at the local level and on an international scale. If Canada has self respect, it will begin to honour First Nations culture and knowledge, respect citizens by establishing policies that protect them and the environment, establish renewable energy infrastructure, and engaged in proactive ways with China to transfer sustainable technologies and practices by promoting the mutual benefit of global sustainability.
Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project proposal was submitted to Canada's National Energy Board on December 16th 2013. 1 Kinder Morgan Inc. is the 84th largest multinational corporate entity globally, as well as the 4th largest energy company in the United States. Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project proposal is: 1) to reopen the existing Trans Mountain pipeline; 2) the construction of 987km of additional pipeline; 3) as well as new facilities, tripling current transportation capacity of fossil fuel from Alberta to the west coast of British Columbia for foreign exports.2 It is no secret that this dirty tar is intended largely to be sold to China. Even though China is emerging as the largest economy in the world, the country is currently undergoing an ecological collapse, water/air/food/health crisis. This is worrisome for the health of the financial system as a whole. China’s largest lakes are hyper-eutrophied and cancer villages are mushrooming across the country, without the venomous greed of the oligarchs and the fumes of Canada’s enormous reserve of tar. Furthermore, toxic air particulates traverse the Pacific Ocean in 3 days on strong winds called Westerlies. A large number of Chinese have come to Vancouver to escape China's nasty pollution...Where will we go when Canada’s west coast air becomes heavily polluted?
Locally environmental risks associated with the Kinder Morgan project include groundwater contamination and degeneration of fragile ecosystems. The project would bring a meagre 50 long-term jobs. The current traffic of 96 tankers a year would augment to 444 tankers in the Straight of Georgia. The possibility of an oil spill in the costal waters of British Columbia is heightened as tanker traffic increases.3 If the new Trans Mountain pipeline project is approved, in the case of a spill, the potential destructive impact has been estimated by CRED report experts to have repercussions on 43% of jobs in film, agriculture, real estate, property management, clean tech, information and communication technology in the Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley areas, totalling to 200,000 jobs.
To give the unfamiliar reader some context, I have chosen important facts from the article “Assessing the risks of Kinder Morgan’s proposed new Trans Mountain pipeline,” a comprehensive critic of the Trans Mountain Expansion project proposal produced by CRED.4 I will be specifically looking at Canada's risk management regulatory gaps and offer some insight into the implications of the policy decision-making process in the context of climate change. For this purpose, I am making use of conceptual tools applied in “Multiple scales and regulatory gaps in environmental change: the case of salmon aquaculture,” written by Timothy L. McDaniels, Hadi Dowlatabadi, Sara Stevens, and published in the scholarly journal Global Environmental Change in 2005, to analyze the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion proposal.
The environmental, socio-economic and public health risks are the most important factors to consider in the policy decision-making process of risk management. Transporting oil or bitumen on water is always risky business, and pipeline failure risk increases with the transportation of bitumen, which is thicker and harder to handle. This is particularly problematic because of the pipeline's proposed route traversing First Nation's territories and in close proximity to schools jeopardizing children safety. Furthermore, the limited liability partnership (LLP) structure of Kinder Morgan presents problematic uncertainties associated with available financial resources in the case of an oil spill. Who will pay the bill when the cost of an accident exceeds insurance coverage? The Canada National Energy Board website under 'frequently asked questions' informs the public about liability residing completely on the multinational corporation in case of an oil spill. In fact, there is no certainty about Kinder Morgan's insurance coverage.
“There are also institutional and financial gaps related to how marine emergencies are managed, funded, and damages compensated. For example, there is financial and political vulnerability to government when the Responsible Party (ship owner) has reached their legally defined limit of financial responsibility. In Canada, the ship owner is responsible for incident management and impact mitigation from an oil spill or other environmental consequences, not the cargo owner or vessel charterer. Once reaching their budget for response, the ship owner may no longer be either “willing” or “able” to continue with response activities. A “transfer-of-command” is undertaken where government then assumes all incident management responsibilities, including response cost.”5
In “Risk Analysis and Society, An Interdisciplinary Characterization of the field,” edited by Timothy McDaniels, Mitchell J. Small, the authors acknowledge the importance of “comprehensive interdisciplinary perspectives on the relationship between risk issues and the broader societies in which they exist.”6 Dialectically, in order to provide risk management and decision-making insights, it is crucial to critically examine the broader social architecture in which the project is embedded. This broader context includes the global cumulative impact of greenhouse gas emissions which engenders rapid degeneration of Earth's biosphere,7 the warming of the planet and climate change. Other important aspects of the project to consider are Canada's political economy, the powerful oligarchic forces behind liberal trade and globalization. Canadian governance has deeply-rooted neoliberal principles exemplified by our fossil fuel foreign export and trading expansion strategy and projects like the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion, Enbridge Northern Gateway project and the TransCanada Keystone XL.8 Canada has one of the worst environmental performance in the Western world according to the Environmental Performance Index 2016. These projects are in serious conflict with the globally agreed upon scientific indicators of the urgency of climate change.
Anthropogenic activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, the agro-industry, and the ecological devastation resulting from war conflicts are all accelerating climate change. IPCC has established the risk of dangerous anthropogenic interference (DAI) as a reference tool for policy-makers globally to make climate change risk management decisions. The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change in 2007 present the DAI: “Key vulnerabilities are associated with many climate-sensitive systems, including food supply, infrastructure, health, water resources, coastal systems, ecosystems, global biogeochemical cycles, ice sheets and modes of oceanic and atmospheric circulation.”9
During the years of Harper, Canadian leadership has demonstrated profound negligence towards the planetary ecological urgency of climate change. Canada's position as a global trade and market-player was unapologetically expressed by our government's withdrawal from the Kyoto accord; the politico-legislative body supporting global neoliberalism and a corporate oligarch agenda. The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion project examplifies the oligarch paradigm.
Activists, ENGO's, First Nations and the Fraser valley community has developed a lack of trust in the government, the Coastal guard and B.C. Ministry of Environment effectiveness in risks management and regulatory safety protocols. Although, the B.C. Ministry of Environment has a sophisticated Environmental Emergency Program, the BC government as an important stakeholder in the Trans Mountain pipeline project took no measures to insure the safety of Canadian citizens during the Kinder Morgan Sumas tank farm spill, even after school children where experiencing nausea and other health symptoms. “The Ministry of Environment had to admit they had actually done no data collection to know if the spill was going to be toxic, if it could harm children.”- NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert10 Other regulatory gaps include “rescuing oiled wildlife, handling oily wastes, deciding to use oil dispersants or to in-situ oil burn, managing a large shore workforce, and responding to oil types not defined under the Canada Shipping Act and hazardous substances.”11
In the article Dramas of the Commons, “Cross-Scale Institutional Linkages: Perspectives from the Bottom Up,” written by Fikret Berkes, the scholar points to the important fact that in a globalized world intentionally managed cross-scale linkages become especially important, and how state power and the management of natural resources often transfers knowledge from traditional indigenous methods of environmental protection to a modern scientific approach. Control over the scientific paradigm and political power remain in the hands of managerial elite capitalists.
The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion project directly impacts First Nations.12 First Nations, including Tsartlip First Nation on Vancouver Island, the Coldwater Indian Band, Alexander First Nation, Squamish Nation, Pacheedaht First Nations, spoke loud and clear at public hearings to defend their livelihood, for the protection of land ecology and water quality. “Indigenous knowledge is holistic in the sense that knowledge is interconnected and relational in the same way that all life is interconnected and relational.”13 The hearing process of the National Energy Board review of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion project is over.
"On 19 May 2016, the National Energy Board (NEB) issued a report recommending that Governor in Council (GIC) approve the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (Project), subject to 157 conditions. Should GIC approve the Project, it will order the NEB to issue a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. You can read the full Recommendation Report here:
“The NEB rejected a demand from the B.C. government in January to compel Kinder Morgan to provide more information about its emergency response plan. A number of municipalities, First Nations and environmental groups supported the province's request.” 15 Communities along the pipeline route will be the first directly impacted by the policy decisions, an this is why they have expressed opposition to the project through ongoing public protests.16
“Earlier, Section 2 outlined that effective regulation of actions or processes with impacts across multiple scales requires appropriate knowledge and effective jurisdiction. The knowledge basis for such decisions includes understanding the nature and dynamics of impacts within and across relevant scales, as well as knowledge needed to meet the requirements of informed decision-making.”17
The following section of my memo will focus on mismatch among scale and institutional control. From a human perspective the worst case scenario, mismatch would lead to the breakdown of ecosystems on a planetary scale. Canada's political economy supports mega-projects energy infrastructure and resource extraction, both at home and abroad. These projects represent an energy consumption paradigm which has been recognized as a threat to future generations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The cumulative impacts of GHG emissions are uncertain and potentially extremely dangerous for life on Earth.
“Cash and Moser (2000) developed a typology of mismatches among the scale of institutional control and the nature of the environmental problem of concern.”18 When we apply the concepts of mismatches of institutional control to the magnitude of the environmental risk in the case of the Trans Mountain Expansion, we observe that there is a disjunction. This disjunction appears in the IPCC scientific recommendations urging humanity to take action within the next decade to mitigate climate change, and Canada's managerial elitists political dynamics. There is an ethical gap between the scientific environmental reality of climate change as expressed in the IPCC reports, and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion project which contributes to humanity's dependence on fossil fuel.
The UN Global Compact, the OECD Guidelines recognize individual human rights but these recommendations are not binding rules under international trade law. The UN model for multilateral corporations and other enterprises in international trade practices implements dignity for all human beings, nevertheless, “all efforts to establish binding rules for multinational corporations have so far failed.”19 There is an obvious hierarchy and politics of power across layers of social organization from international to national to regional, local. The cumulative impact of GHG emissions, climate warming, ecological degradation, are complex global challenges with severe impacts on human societies across the planet. These human challenges require multi-scale coordinated actions on a planetary level.
The current system of international law supports liberal trade. After World War II, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and World Trade Organization (WTO) emerged. The GATT/WTO originally emerge from legally binding trade agreements during the Benton Woods Conference in July 1944, in New Hampshire. The International Monetary Funds (IMF) and the World Bank were established during the Brenton Woods Conference.20 Human rights and environmental justice are not embedded in the WTO agreement. The current international law legal system requires new human rights and ecological principles to reflect the environmental reality of the anthropocene. Following Bolivian Constitutional law, the environmental rights of Earth, as a sovereign entity, should be embedded into international law.21 International law exists in a paradigm in which states are sovereign, whereas climate change requires a deep understanding of the dependence of all states (Taylor, 1998). New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Central America, all have incorporated indigenous concepts into law (Taylor , Grinlinton, ed., 2011). The incorporation of the biophysical limits of Earth into international law is a necessary step to advance human dignity and human survival. Scholars have begun to explore possibilities for this new legal pluralism which would integrate the ecological and biophysical limits of Earth. In “International Trade and Human Rights: Foundations and Conceptual Issues,” written by Frederick M. Abbott, Christine Kaufmann, Thomas Cottier, and published in 2006, we learn that the “lack of interest in human dignity and the application of binding law human right principles is disturbing to human right law proponents.”
GHG emissions from the Trans Mountain pipeline will have irreversible repercussions on the ecology of Earth, both at home and on a planetary scale, as well as on future generations. Canada should start acting rationally and integrate the scientific realty of climate change into all areas of policy decision-making processes, encourage creative problem solving to complex challenges, and begin a radical economic transformation from fossil fuel to renewables which would boost the Canadian economy, engage intelligently and creatively with China, and learn from the global leaders in environmental performance and do better.22 In the next ten days, as Canadians, we have a small window of opportunity to tell the Trudeau government that the citizens of the city of Vancouver are radically opposed to Kinder Morgans proposal. Write to your MP. Canadians are opposed to Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion project. We can do much better than this.
1"If the proposed expansion of Trans Mountain Pipeline is approved, construction could begin in 2017, with the pipeline ready for use in December 2019."https://www.transmountain.com/construction
2National Energy Board to Hold Oral Public Hearing for Proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project
3 Major Marine Vessel Casualty Risk and Response Preparedness in British Columbia Prepared for Living Oceans Society Sointula/Vancouver, BC Canada by EnviroEmerg Consulting Cowichan Bay, BC Canada - vi -
4Conversations for Responsible Economic Development is a collaboration of business owners, academics, landowners and everyday residents of British Columbia who support responsible economic development. “Assessing the risks of Kinder Morgan’s proposed new Trans Mountain pipeline, Conversations for Responsible Economic Development, Building informed discussion about people, pipelines and purpose on Canada’s West Coast”, CRED
5http://www.georgiastrait.org/files/LOS_marine_vessels_report.pdf July 2008
6Risk Analysis and Society, An Interdisciplinary Characterization of the field, edited by Timothy McDaniels, Mitchell J. Small, pp.7
7“We now better understand that the evolution of life on Earth has created interdependent ecosystems. The science of ecology tells us that everything is connected to everything else and that humanity has an integral place with this network of connections. We are confronted with mounting evidence that Earth's biosphere is in serious decline as a direct consequence of human actions. In 2005, the United Nations' Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report put this evidence in stark terms. It established that the cumulative impacts of human activity on the planet's ecological systems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.”
“Property Rights and Sustainability The Evolution of Property Rights to Meet Ecological Challenges,” edited by David Grinlinton and Prue Taylor, 2011, pp.9
8 “After a seven year review process, on November 6, 2015, President Obama denied the required presidential permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. On January 6th, 2016, TransCanada challenged that denial by announcing it has taken legal action under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and also initiated Constitutional litigation against the U.S. Administration.” http://www.transcanada.com/keystone.html
9 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
10B.C. oil spill response 'gaps' exposed in government email, CBC News, October 27th 2014
11“Major Marine Vessel Casualty Risk and Response Preparedness in British Columbia,” Prepared for Living Oceans Society Sointula/Vancouver, BC Canada by EnviroEmerg Consulting Cowichan Bay, BC Canada, - iv -
12“Solidarity at the Coquihalla Summit about Trans Mountain Pipeline,” Joint News Release, August 20, 2013
13 “Property Rights and Sustainability The Evolution of Property Rights to Meet Ecological Challenges,” edited by David Grinlinton and Prue Taylor, 2011, pp.105
14 Summary of Recommendation, Trans Mountain Expansion Project
15 L., Kane, “Kinder Morgan President Says B.C. Spill Plan Doesn't Need To Be Public,” The Canadian Press, January 20th 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/02/20/kinder-morgan-president-s_n_6723640.html
16“Protesters rally against Trans Mountain pipeline, but drilling continues,” Burnaby, B.C.,The Globe and Mail, Published November 24 2014, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/protestors-rally-against-trans-mountain-pipeline-but-drilling-continues/article21743986/
17“Multiple scales and regulatory gaps in environmental change: the case of salmon aquaculture,” Global Environmental Change 15 (2005) 9–21, Timothy L. McDaniels, Hadi Dowlatabadi, Sara Stevens, pp.19
18“Multiple scales and regulatory gaps in environmental change: the case of salmon aquaculture,” Global Environmental Change 15 (2005) 9–21, Timothy L. McDaniels, Hadi Dowlatabadi, Sara Stevens, pp.10
19 M. Abbot, Breining-Kaufmann, Cottier, ed., “International Trade and Human Rights: Foundations and Conceptual Issues,” 2006, pp.98
20US Department of State, Office of Historian, Bretton Woods-GATT, 1941–1947
21 It is interesting to note that bolivia, a country with an indigenous majority population which is also represented in the governance structure, has the consciousness, the ecological awareness of Earth's interconnected well-being with all other species. Earth is literally the Mother of all species on earth, in purely literal ways.
22Figure 8: A proximity-to-target methodology is used to benchmark country’s performance against targets.http://epi.yale.edu/sites/default/files/2016EPI_Full_Report.pdf