Pipeline foes see hope in green wave

PIPE UP Network organizer elated by talk about ending the “addiction” to oil and funding “green” energy sources.

Ending the “addiction to oil” and switching to renewable “green” energy sources is the long-term goal of opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Most of a town hall meeting organized by pipeline opponents in Chilliwack last week focused on warnings about the perceived risks to the local economy and the health of area residents, if the Trans Mountain pipeline owned by Kinder Morgan should rupture and spill diluted bitumen (tar sands) into the environment.

But after the meeting, PIPE UP Network organizer Mike Hale was clearly elated by the talk by audience members and a panel of guest speakers about ending the “addiction” to oil and funding “green” energy sources.

“That’s the revolutionary movement,” Hale said, adding that he believes there has been a “sea-change” in public willingness to switch to alternate energy sources like wind and solar power.

Reuben George, a panelist at the meeting from the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, called for an end to government subsidies for fossil fuels and re-directing them to renewable sources.

Ian Stephen, another panel member, said Canadians need to “pipe up” and make the federal government listen to the public demand for clean energy to end the economy based on fossil fuels.

Panelist Ben West, a director at the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, said a local solution to “getting off the oil” is the Inter-Urban Rail line, which has long been proposed as a rapid transit route.

He said rapid transit would reduce Hwy 1 traffic, protecting air quality, and reducing urban sprawl, which would protect Fraser Valley farmlands.

Kinder Morgan opponents say building the pipeline to pump fossil fuels to export markets holds few benefits for B.C. while the risks of spills increase with the proposed expansion.

West noted at the meeting that the NDP has proposed an environmental assessment of pipeline proposals in B.C., including Kinder Morgan, if the New Democrats forms government in the May 14 provincial election.

NDP Leader Adrian Dix said last week he would withdraw from the federal review process of the Enbridge pipeline proposal and set up a “made in B.C.” environmental assessment.

The proposal includes the Kinder Morgan pipeline, an NDP spokesperson said.