Trans Mountain Corporation (TMC) in Canada announced on March 10 that the cost of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) project has increased by 44% from $21.4 billion to “$30.9 billion”. The project, which is close to 80% of its completion, carries crude and refined products from Edmonton, Alberta to the coast of British Columbia, Canada. The government of Canada approved the TMX project in 2019, but it has faced opposition from environmental activists who argue that the project could have a significant impact on the environment.
The TMX project has attracted controversy for several reasons, one of which is its potential impact on the environment. The pipeline expansion will cross the traditional territory of several First Nations communities, and many of these communities have expressed concern about the project's impact on their land, water, and way of life. In addition, environmentalists worry that the pipeline could have significant consequences for the region's wildlife, including the endangered Southern Resident killer whales, whose habitat could be impacted by increased tanker traffic.
The TMX project has also faced opposition from climate activists who argue that the project's expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure will lead to increased carbon emissions and contribute to climate change. Activists have been protesting the project for years, with many participating in civil disobedience, such as blocking construction sites and chaining themselves to equipment.
Professor Tim Takaro from Simon Fraser University is one of the activists who oppose large investments in pipelines. He was arrested for 30 days as he suspended himself in trees to make it difficult for contractors to clear the land for the pipeline expansion. On March 20, 2023, he spoke about the potential catastrophic effects of increasing carbon emissions, saying, "We are on the pathway to global warming that is double what we promised. Some government and business leaders are saying one thing but doing simply quit they are lying and the result will be catastrophic. This is a climate emergency. And in the same, he also said that investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic. We are the only G7 nation whose emissions have increased since Paris."
Lucy Everett, a member, and organizer of the Métis Nation, is another activist who opposes large investments in pipelines. She was sentenced to 21 days in jail in January 2023 for protesting in inflatable dinosaur costumes at a TMX work site in Burnaby. She mentioned that Kinder Morgan, the company that owns the existing pipeline, has a poor track record of spills, with over 80 spills in the last 60 years since the pipeline was started running.
The TMX project has also faced legal challenges, with several First Nations communities and environmental organizations filing lawsuits against the project. In 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected appeals challenging TMX, but the objections of TMX continue. Many climate activists are still protesting for protecting the environment, and they established the Stop TMX movement.
The Canadian government has defended the TMX project, arguing that it is necessary for Canada's economic growth and energy security. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that the project is being done "the right way," with proper consultation with Indigenous communities and measures in place to protect the environment. However, critics argue that the government's support for the project contradicts its commitment to addressing climate change.
The cost increase for the TMX project is likely to attract more controversy, with concerns over its environmental impact and the potential for increased carbon emissions. The project's completion is expected to impact the climate in the years to come, and activists like Professor Tim Takaro and Lucy Everett continue to fight against it. While the Canadian government maintains its support for the project, the opposition shows no sign of slowing down, and the debate over the TMX project is likely to continue for years to come.
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