Battle on the Mountain

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Some of you have already received info from me on the Battle of Burnaby Mountain, some of you haven’t. I’ve put all my e-mail addresses together, so as to reach the maximum number of people with the legal defense fund appeal below. Please read the report on what’s at stake and then kick whatever money you can into the indiegogo site, whose link is at the end of paragraph five.

If you don’t like sending money via the internet, please mail cheques to
6508 East Hastings Street,
P.O. Box 44063 Kensington Square,
Burnaby, B.C., V5B 1S0

For more info, visit the BROKE website at

Solidarity Funding Needed for Legal Costs
BROKE vs. Big Oil on Burnaby Mountain: Plugging the Tar Sands Dilbit Pipeline

On-the-ground resistance is growing on Burnaby Mountain in the suburbs of Vancouver, BC, against the local and worldwide hazards from pipelining Alberta tar sands to tidewater for shipment to Asian markets.

Giant energy/pipeline corporation Kinder Morgan (KM) has reacted by going to court for an injunction against the resistance and by suing the neighbours and allies defending our community for millions of dollars in “damages.” Filed on Halloween, the injunction application was heard in BC Supreme Court November 5-7 before Associate Chief Justice Austin Cullen, who then announced he would render his decision by November 17. The civil suit will go to trial sometime in the future.

Among the eco-defenders on the mountain are members of BROKE (Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion). We have been campaigning for over two years against the pipeline project and taking an active part in the recent actions against KM’s access to the mountain. Named in the injunction application and civil suit are five individuals and BROKE.

Four of those individuals are part of a loose, ad hoc group of defenders who call themselves “the Caretakers” and have played a crucial role in the resistance. They quickly got an internet-savvy, crowd-funding website set up last weekend and in three days raised over $40,000 to cover legal costs.

More than a little behind with only a few thousand raised as of this writing, BROKE and BROKE leader Alan Dutton (the fifth named defendant) urgently need your help. Lawyers’ fees are mounting. Big oil’s big money is seeking to crush our opposition, hoping they can bankrupt us. To make a donation of any size, please visit

Kinder Morgan and its subsidiary Trans Mountain Pipeline intend to “twin” an existing pipeline and triple the diluted bitumen arriving in Burnaby to nearly 900,000 barrels a day. The final leg of that pipeline is slated to be tunneled through Burnaby Mountain.

Storage tanks currently perched on the side of the mountain–uphill from homes, schools, parks and businesses—hold 1.6 million barrels of oil. Newer, bigger tanks would increase capacity to over 5 million barrels. Nearby residents already complain of occasional releases of toxic fumes from the tanks. City fire department officials have warned that a fire at the facility (and worse, along any downhill course of the flames) could easily grow beyond any hope of local firefighters’ containing it.

Supertanker traffic to KM’s Westridge Terminal would increase from five a month to at least 35 and necessitate an expansion of the terminal from one tanker berth to three. Maneuvering two or more of these monsters per day through the narrows and under the bridges of beautiful Burrard Inlet will inevitably bring punctures and spills that will foul the shores of Burnaby, Vancouver, and several other municipalities. Toxic fumes from a large spill would cause health problems throughout the airshed.

Greater Vancouver’s tourist industry, a significant part of the local economy, would suffer profoundly from a major spill in the inlet.

Yet another serious hazard could result from the unfortunate confluence of two facts. British Columbia’s west coast is a serious earthquake zone with seismologists predicting a “big one” any time in the next 50 years. And Burnaby Mountain is home to a significant seismic fault zone. The nightmares of a severed dilbit pipeline—pushing 410 barrels per minute past any given point—inside a dis-aligned tunnel are hard to imagine.

The City of Burnaby, under leadership of Mayor Derrick Corrigan with unanimous support from city council, has tried to block the pipeline expansion project by every legal means available to them. In community meetings and public rallies over the past 7 months Corrigan has talked about huge, multi-national corporations ignoring people’s needs in their quest for outrageous profits—not your normal mayoral speech. Most recently, contactors cutting trees in Burnaby Mountain’s Conservation Area, where stopped and ticketed for violating municipal by-laws.

A city application for a court injunction to halt Kinder Morgan’s work on the mountain was referred to the National Energy Board (NEB), which is supposed to be reviewing the whole pipeline/tank farm/terminal project and making a recommendation to the federal government on whether to approve it or not. Environmental considerations are supposed to be a major part of this review.

But the pro-business NEB ruled in late October that the company can do whatever it needs to do, including more flora and habitat destruction, to gather data in preparation for the planned tunnel. Appointed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who sees unchecked fossil fuel extraction and export marketing as his route into the history books, the NEB decided it could, by itself, determine the constitutional question of whether an unelected tribunal was entitled to over-rule municipal laws. And over-rule them it did.

Burnaby is contesting this decision at the Federal Court of Appeals. Both the city and the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, across the inlet from Burnaby in North Vancouver, have also gone to that court to challenge the validity of the entire NEB review process.

PM Harper significantly changed the rules for that process, in a decidedly anti-democratic direction, after massive public participation in the NEB’s review of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, another tar sands carrier planned for northern British Columbia.

Some of these changes recently motivated a scathing-open-letter withdrawal from the NEB review of the KM pipeline by Marc Eliesen, who called it “a fraudulent proess” and “a farce.” He is a former head of both BC Hydro and Manitoba Hydro, and a 40-year veteran of various energy-related government posts, including serving as deputy minister in seven different federal and provincial governments.(

Among the offenses against democracy , cited by Eliesen and others, are the NEB panel itself is not a “joint review,” involving pro and con members of the public, as in the review of the Enbridge Gateway pipeline application;
intervenors, those allowed to give oral evidence, are restricted to those who are “directly affected,” according to a very narrow definition of this phrase;

  • considered irrelevant is evidence about the ecological devastation around the tar sands extraction operations in Alberta and the resulting severe problems for the people there;
  • considered irrelevant is evidence about the negative climate change impacts of tar sands oil extraction, transportation, refining, and eventual combusion;
  • considered of only incidental importance is evidence about possible eco-disasters resulting from supertanker accidents after they leave Burnaby;
  • evidence given by the company cannot be orally cross-examined by experts, but may only be challenged by two rounds of written questions;
  • when the company refuses to answer these questions or answers evasively, requests that the NEB compel answers have only been upheld five per cent of the time (most of the 300 questions from the City of Burnaby have been ignored, and the Province of BC has also complained most of its questions are unanswered);
  • the NEB investigation itself amounts to a “veneer examination” which either displays a woeful lack of professional standards or a desire to go easy on KM, so the supposed economic benefits of the project will not be exposed as false.

In the face of this obscene pretense to protect the public interest, it is not only excusable that BROKE, the caretakers and others have taken up the fight, it is absolutely necessary. Please do what you can to help out at the indiegogo link above.