“No god and no religion can survive ridicule. No church, no nobility, no royalty or other fraud, can face ridicule in a fair field and live.” –Mark Twain
I’ll be damned. All this time, I thought stopping our out-of control fossil fuel industry before they destroy the planet might be impossible. At the very least, I felt sure we were in for the fight of our lives. But maybe not. Who knew all these enormous corporate juggernauts were so … well, sensitive, so easily wounded? Almost makes me feel sorry for the poor babies. But not quite.
Remember the Gorgons in Greek mythology, whose merest glance turned men to stone? Wonder if we could learn that trick …
Attorney for Texas oil giant says facial expressions made by pipeline protesters are “assault”
Daily Kos * Mon Nov 10, 2014 at 12:29 PM PST
In 2012, Texas oil giant Kinder Morgan announced plans to triple the size of their Canadian pipeline:
The expansion involves twinning, or building, 610 miles of new pipeline along the existing 715-mile route between Edmonton in Alberta and Burnaby, British Columbia, a suburban community just outside Vancouver.
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Many Canadian residents are outraged and have tried to block the expansion, some even chained themselves to fencing around a test site to prevent the company from conducting tests in British Columbia.
Kinder Morgan responded by suing protesters and claiming the dirty looks they gave Kinder Morgan employees constitute “assault”:
Mr. Kaplan had argued the defendants conspired against Kinder Morgan, employing social media and telephone networks to harm the oil company and pipeline builder Trans Mountain as they seek to nearly triple capacity by expanding a route under Burnaby Mountain.
He entered into evidence photographs of protesters wearing facial expressions he said demonstrate anger and violence.
“One of the things I will argue is that is not only intimidation, but that is actually an assault,” he said on Wednesday.
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Opponents of the pipeline latched onto this ridiculous legal argument and the “assault” faces went viral under the #KMFace hashtag.
#KMface from BeyondBoarding on Vimeo.
For more of the hilarious #KMFace photos check out the #KMFace hashtag on Twitter.
Can you imagine if looking at a cop the wrong way constituted assault? Grumpy cat would be in big, big trouble.
*** First Update ***
Then again, perhaps it won’t be all that easy. Or maybe the RCMP folks are tougher than pipeline workers? Stay tuned.
Protectors of Burnaby Mountain vs. Kinder Morgan: Dozens Arrested as Inspiring Pipeline Protest Grows
Standing on side of campaigners, local mayor vows to wage ‘war’ against fossil fuel giant and federal government to defend community
Common Dreams * Friday, November 21, 2014
by Nadia Prupis, staff writer
Ongoing protests in British Columbia to stop a tar sands pipeline project by fossil fuel giant Kinder Morgan escalated on Thursday night after 26 protesters were violently arrested. Those arrested also included protesters who refused to comply with an injunction issued earlier in the week ordering them to move from their encampment on the mountain.
In response, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan promised that he was ready to fight a “war” in the courts with the federal government.
“This is going to be a war, and it’s going to be one that carries on for a number of years,” Corrigan told the Province.
“The bigger argument that needs to be fought is: How much can the federal government impose its will on local governments and the ability of people to make local decisions? That’s really the quintessential issue that takes this beyond a merely local situation to being one that attracts interest from municipalities right across Canada.”
In June, an independent poll found that more than 60 percent of Burnaby residents oppose Kinder Morgan’s development proposal to invest $5.4 billion into expanding an existing tar sands pipeline and storage terminal—which the city says would lead to seven times as many oil tankers using the nearby Burrard Inlet each year.
At a press conference on Friday, Burnaby Mountain protesters said they would “remain steadfast” despite the arrests, and said the key issues in the fight against Kinder Morgan were “Indigenous rights, climate change, and protection of the lands and waters against corporate greed.”
Police released some of those arrested from custody on the condition that they no longer interfere with Kinder Morgan operations in the area, which are being carried out by the company’s subsidiary, Trans Mountain.
Mayor Corrigan assured protesters that his government was prepared to fight the company—and the energy industry at large—in the courts.
“I didn’t look for the fight. But… if it comes to me, I’m not going to back down,” Corrigan said. “This came to our doorstep. We didn’t go looking for this fight … but this will likely turn into a case that will have implications for cities right across Canada for a long time… This is a fight that’s been a long time coming. We’ve been dealing with 21st-century problems using a 19th-century statute.”
An appeals court is currently considering a bid by the city to force Kinder Morgan to stop conducting its geological survey on the mountain, which Burnaby says violates city bylaws. Burnaby’s first attempt to stop the work was overturned in October.
Updates on the movement can be followed on Twitter under the hashtag #BurnabyMountain.
*** Second Update ***
Brrr! There’s some irony in running the risk of hypothermia and frostbite, while fighting global warming, don’t you thihnk? For protests, this is looking like the real deal. Vancouver in November may not be Manitoba, but it’s not bikini weather out there, not by my standards.
Protesting on Burnaby Mountain Was My Obligation as a Scientist, Parent and Canadian Citizen
Vancouver Observer * Tuesday, November 25, 2014
by Alejandro Frid
Harper’s conservative government is working hard to turn Canada into a petrostate. Their tactics include blatant inaction on climate change, dismantling environmental legislation, stripping government scientists from their ability to communicate research findings to the tax-paying public, and spying on citizens who, like me, dissent.
Consistent with these tactics, Harper tasked the National Energy Board (NEB) with examining whether building new pipelines that enable increased exploitation of bitumen from the Alberta tar sands is in the best interest of Canadians. Proposed infrastructure under current NEB “scrutiny” include the Trans Mountain pipeline by Houston-based Kinder Morgan, which would increase the capacity to transport tar sands bitumen to an export port in Vancouver, and the Northern Gateway pipeline, which would transport bitumen to the export port of Kitimat. The NEB has approved Northern Gateway and appears to be well on its way to doing the same for Trans Mountain.
The NEB, of course, is a blatant sham, a smokescreen, a club that exists solely to advance the interests of fossil fuel corporations. This assessment is consistent with the conclusion of Marc Eliesen, an industry insider who publicly resigned as intervenor in the NEB Trans Mountain hearings, stating in the Globe and Mail:
“To me this is a farce: There is no way you can test the evidence if they won’t answer the basic questions. Unfortunately, this board is not objective. This board is biased.”
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While the above quote speaks volumes, for many of us the real clincher is this. The NEB process considers only local impacts—oil spills and the like—while ignoring climate change. This is the equivalent of banning discourse on respiratory disease and asking, “Is it in the best interest of Canadians for the cigarette industry to market their product for toddlers, or would the plastic wrapping of cigarette cartons pose a choking hazard to that age group?”
Opposition to Kinder Morgan is substantial.
In a rather interesting twist of fate, the proposed route for their Trans Mountain pipeline includes the outskirts of Simon Fraser University in Greater Vancouver, where academics and other senior professionals can easily join First Nations and other citizens in opposition, some choosing civil disobedience.
Of course, I had to follow suit. On November 22, 2014, I joined what may be the first sustained, multi-day act of civil disobedience against climate change inaction. That day, I crossed an injunction line excluding the public from the Kinder Morgan’s “study area”.
As captured in my video, these were my thoughts at the time:
I am here because it is my moral obligation as parent, an ecologist, a human being, a citizen of Canada. I am here because climate change is the issue of our time. As an ecologist who understands the scientific literature, I know that a rapid transition to large-scale use of renewable energy is no longer a technical issue, but rather one of political will.
The decisions we make today on how fast we phase out fossil fuels will affect the chemistry of the ocean and atmosphere for many centuries to come. It will make the difference on whether my daughter will have a livable planet…or not.
As a parent, ecologist, and human being…I can no longer tolerate inaction on climate change by the federal government. Which is precisely why it is my moral obligation to engage in the act of peaceful civil disobedience that I am about to commit. With this act, I am sending the message to the federal government that we want Canada to be a country that stands for democracy and climate justice.
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In crossing the injunction line, I helped raise the arrest tally to 53 (with more arrests happening since). This meant hand cuffs, a police vehicle ride, and almost eight hours under custody, with about four hours in solitary confinement in a cold cell without food or water. While police treated us courteously (as we treated them), I cannot help wondering whether the solitary confinement reflected top-down orders from corporate board rooms. Having been previously apprehended for blockading a coal train but released within an hour, my past experience suggests that a much faster release without solitary confinement was within the scope of police discretion.
Was my peaceful act of civil disobedience consistent with my obligations as a scientist who understands climate change? Absolutely.
While I do not suggest that others should answer in the same way I did, I do encourage all scientists and other citizens to ask themselves the same question and to respond—in a thoughtful and informed manner—with the actions that best apply to their personal context.
© 2014 Vancouver Observer
*** Third Update ***
Here’s something we don’t see every day — a pipeline company slinking off, with its tail between its legs. For the moment, at least. My cynical side wonders what will happen come spring. Or once the negative publicity dies down, and pipeline protesters let down their guard. Still, so far, so good.
Note that Kinder Morgan provided incorrect GPS coordinates to the court in filing to extend their injunction. But don’t these fine folks claim they can dig holes so precisely, and extract minerals so carefully that we’ll never know they were here?
Kinder Morgan Leaves Burnaby Mountain in Win for Pipeline Protesters
Waging Nonviolence * Wednesday, December 03, 2014
by Kate Aronoff
On the morning of November 28, after weeks of sustained protest, energy infrastructure company Kinder Morgan packed up the equipment it had planned to use in the construction of a new pipeline on Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia, and left without finishing the job.
Weeks earlier, the company had legally declared a “no protest zone” — valid through December 1 — to keep protesters away from the mountainside construction sites on the grounds that their presence would present a safety hazard and undue expenses. When that wasn’t enough, they filed an application with the British Columbia Supreme Court to extend the injunction for another two weeks. But the court rejected their application, when it was revealed that Kinder Morgan had provided the wrong GPS coordinates for the injunction zone.
As a result, charges were also lifted from the over 100 people arrested for civil contempt, due to a lack of clarity around where they could and could not be on the mountain.
Most importantly, the ruling means that Kinder Morgan can no longer continue construction on the site, as it has no legal grounds to do so. According to Reuters, the project would have more than tripled the volume of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, which transports an estimated 300,000 barrels of tar sands oil daily through Alberta and British Columbia.
Kinder Morgan Canada President Ian Anderson described the last few weeks as a “challenging time.” The Texas-based company not only faced pressure at the mine site, but a public relations battle: a poll found that 70 percent of residents opposed the Trans Mountain expansion. While the “jobs vs. environment” argument continues to hold sway up north, oil companies may have to find new talking points: The country’s clean energy sector employed more Canadians than the fossil fuel industry last year, with employment figures jumping 37 percent over the last five years.
Protests were attended by local residents, students, environmental groups and indigenous advocates, who took on a lead role in the anti-pipeline organizing. The land on which Kinder Morgan intended to build the expansion is the unceded traditional territory of the Tseil-Waututh, Musqueam, Sto:lo and Squamish Nations.
Tseil-Waututh representatives have filed a legal challenge with Canada’s Federal Court of Appeals. Building the pipeline would also run directly counter to a recent U.N. report stating that companies need explicit consent from Canada’s First Nations before beginning construction, even as First Nations’ land rights are enshrined in the country’s constitution.
Sut-Lut, a Squamish Nation elder who kept a fire burning throughout the protests, told a local paper, “This isn’t a First Nations issue, it’s not a Burnaby resident problem only, it’s a people problem, and it’s about our survival. We have one Earth, and unless this government is hiding another healthy Earth somewhere, we need to take care of the one we’ve got, and it’s now, it’s now we have to step up.”
Activists took part in a festival commemorating the court’s decision on Burnaby Mountain this past weekend, including workshops, dance performances, parties and speak-outs. Celebrating the victory, veteran organizer Valerie Langer explained to the Vancouver Observer that “This is just one battle, and there are still a lot of battles to come.”
Oil companies TransCanada and Enbridge are each seeking to build or expand oil pipelines through other parts of Canada.
Thursday’s ruling represents a turning point for anti-extraction fights across North America. Combined with recent victories against the Keystone XL and Energy East pipelines, fossil fuel companies can expect more “challenging times” in the months and years to come.