Stop Kinder Morgan Flotilla Talk, October 28, 2017

Gene McGuckin

Thanks for being here, ready to protect this coast—and so much more!

I’m Gene McGuckin, a spokesperson for BROKE, Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion.

We’ve been working for over five years—mostly through public education and often with First Nations and other environmental and community groups—to stop Kinder Morgan’s expansion plans. We have to do this because, though our two-faced prime minister assures us that the project is safe, we know it is very, very unsafe to ourselves and to all living things. And we know that Kinder Morgan, the company that plans to build this expansion, is itself unsafe. We’ve seen its record of spills, fires, explosions and, yes, deaths.

Yet, Prime Minister Trudeau, while breaking election promises, approved the expansion project and assured us it is safe.

Last Monday morning, members and supporters of BROKE and of Vancouver 350 tried to present a letter to the regional office of the so-called federal Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. The letter highlighted the extremely unsafe features of the Kinder Morgan tank farm on Burnaby Mountain – as documented by the Burnaby Fire Department and in another report by a risk specialist.

If the tank farm catches fire, if there are explosions, the disaster could easily surpass the Halifax Fire almost exactly 100 years ago, as the worst accidental loss of life in Canadian history. Although we won’t really be able to call it accidental, since we know it is a real possibility ahead of time.

Then, three days ago, the impatient Kinder Morgan sought the National Energy Board’s permission to ignore the City of Burnaby’s permitting process, because it was taking too much time. Time is money, you know. People’s safety and city planning—having all these rules—that’s a waste of time, a waste of money. Same problem a few weeks back with the NEB rules about not starting construction activity. KM decided to start anyway, by laying snow fencing in salmon streams to deter spawning. The heck with the rules, the heck with the already dwindling fish stocks, the heck with the under-nourished downstream orcas that depend on those salmon for survival. This was characteristic of Kinder Morgan–start construction, break the rules, and threaten the very processes of life.

You can’t make money—piles of money—if you don’t take risks, right. And the profit picture is even better if those are risks of other people’s safety, other species’ survival, other people’s lands and waters and air and homes and children.

Well, we’re here AGAIN to tell Kinder Morgan and Justin Trudeau that we’re not going to have those risks forced upon us. We, and many thousands more, will continue to turn out for protests. We will keep funding court cases. We will work to elect progressive governments. And we will undermine investors’ confidence in these fossil fuel megaprojects.

But you know, if we truly want to be safe, BROKE and the whole movement are going to have to move beyond fighting one costly and time-consuming mega-project at a time. Our world faces the grave danger of climate change, which grows every day at faster and faster rates. As Grand Chief Stewart Phillip keeps reminding us, we are going to have to deal with that ultimate danger, if we want our grandchildren to have a livable world.

We all know that the thing Kinder Morgan evidently hates the most, planning and rules—enforced rules—is what it’s going to take to slow and stop climate change. Every political party has a climate plan now. Every province has a climate plan now, every country. The world has the Paris Accord. But none of these plans are even close to making enough changes fast enough to ensure our children’s and grandchildren’s survival.

These pseudo plans—like building pipelines to finance a green future (can you believe our prime minister actually said that!)—are all based on letting so-called market mechanisms run the show. Market mechanisms that make everything depend on companies like KM reaping riches for remote, already-wealthy shareholders and CEOs and politicians with their hands out.

How’s that working for burned-out Fort MacMurray, for flooded Houston, Kinder Morgan’s headquarters? For the growing numbers of people around the planet who die every year from floods, and fires, and famines, and many other climate-related disasters? Not well. It’s not working out well, at all.

Market mechanisms, proven to be very unsafe mechanisms, are going to have to give way to planning. We’re going to need, heck we already need, a democratic planning process that transitions us to a post-carbon energy system. Easy to say, but difficult to do, weaving together all the extremely complicated, inter-connected social, economic, technolgical, human strands. It will take energy, creativity, and time—we have plenty of the first two—which is why I’m talking to you, but we don’t really have a bunch of extra time. So, I hope we can move in this direction as soon as possible.

Thank you.