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Canada needs to rethink pipelines — before it's too late: Kabatay

Between the massive spill in South Dakota and the approval of TransCanada's alternate route for the Keystone XL pipeline, we are taking steps backwards, writes Jasmine Kabatay.

Spills from TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone pipeline leaked an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil onto agricultural land in northeastern South Dakota, near Amherst, S.D.

AP

Spills from TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone pipeline leaked an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil onto agricultural land in northeastern South Dakota, near Amherst, S.D.

It’s been a year since Standing Rock, where Indigenous people were beaten and arrested at a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Now – also in South Dakota – they’re dealing with the fallout from a massive spill, like the one protesters warned could happen with any pipeline.

Last week, TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline leaked nearly 800,000 litres of oil in Marshall County, S.D. Yet on Monday, Nebraska approved an alternate route for the pipeline to continue.

Keystone has been the cause of controversy in Canada for quite some time now. When it comes to Canadian soil and the future of reconciliation, it seems we're taking steps backwards.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved an extension of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, to run between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C. last fall. It’s time to re-evaluate that decision.

What will happen in Canada when the Trans Mountain pipeline construction begins? Indigenous people have already raised concerns about it.

Last month, several First Nations, environmental groups and municipalities opposed to the pipeline had a chance to raise those concerns at a court hearing.

Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish First Nation told CBC the federal government failed to consult or gain consent from the First Nations for the pipeline expansion – something Trudeau’s Liberals promised they would do during the 2015 election.

If — or when — it bursts, what will the government tell Indigenous people who have been saying a pipeline is a bad idea?

Pipelines have a history of leaking. No matter how carefully they’re developed, there’s always a risk of some kind of leak.

According to a report last summer by The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, metal loss, or corrosion, was the leading cause of spills at 35.7 per cent. Manufacturing and construction defects was the second most common, with 30.6 per cent.

This isn’t only about the environment. It’s about the people who are directly in the path of these pipelines. Whether it’s near a First Nations reserve in the B.C. mountains or a farmer’s field in South Dakota, if there’s a leak like last week’s, it could take months to clean up. If it’s on someone’s land where they make their livelihood, it can create massive problems.

I know some people will say, “But the pipeline will help create jobs!” Trust me, I agree, jobs are great. But what people are forgetting or aren’t realizing is that jobs created for these pipelines largely aren’t permanent. Why put our faith in something temporary when the negative effects will last a lifetime?

Money and a job to help you provide for your kids are great, but ensuring they aren’t living on a dying Earth is better, for them and for the future.

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