Monthly Archives: October 2014

The last barrel of oil on Burnaby Mountain

Sometimes the world narrows to a very fine point. A certain slant of light. The head of a needle you need to pass through. I don’t care right now about the National Energy Board of Canada (merely a corporate tool for shoehorning global energy projects into other people’s territories—a funnel for money from the public, to the private sector). I don’t care about this or that court of law, appeals and constitutional challenges. I don’t care about the drones, unmarked cars, or CSIS agents. I don’t even care that much about the rain.

I care about the people who have come together to stand in a forest, on a mountain, in the path of a pipeline. I care about them because of their passion and commitment, their awareness of the fact that they are standing at once against local destruction (a nature conservation area, the animals we meet here every day, right near the edge of a large city) and against global destruction (adding carbon to an already warming planet through new fossil fuel infrastructure—the last thing we should be doing, if we truly care about the continuation of life on this planet, in the near future). I care too, about the trees I can touch, the animals I can see, and the future commons we need to preserve for life to continue, for this planet to be a place of biological diversity and human sharing.

As has been our intention all along, we will occupy public land, a city park, and prevent Kinder Morgan from carrying out its destructive work—work opposed by local First Nations, opposed by the City of Burnaby, and opposed by the majority of Burnaby residents. While the case goes back and forth in the courts, out intention is to keep Kinder Morgan wrapped up dealing with us, either until a court somewhere sides with the people against this mega-corporation, or until the NEB’s December 1 deadline for KM’s complete application.

We are doing this to protect the local environment and people. And we are doing this because we know that people everywhere have to begin taking a stand against fossil fuel projects, and thus doing whatever we can to mitigate climate change. This is no time for new carbon projects. This is the time to build a new economy, based on new, renewable sources of energy, providing new, clean energy jobs. There is simply no benefit to the citizens of Burnaby to have this pipeline here—it benefits only the US-based Kinder Morgan, and the global market its oil will be sold on. And there is no benefit to our ailing global climate. The time to change course is now, and the many volunteers on Burnaby Mountain, and their many, many supporters in the community and around the world, have realized this, and they are taking direct action.

In Northern BC there is a camp—the Unistot’en Camp, of the Wet’suwet’en people—dug in in the path of the Enbridge and Pacific Trails Pipelines. It has been there for four years, blocking the proposed pipeline routes. Now, here in southern BC, right in Greater Vancouver, a new camp has sprung up, in the path of another, even bigger pipeline, and we will not be going anywhere until this project is stopped. We are young and old, men and women, professionals and the unemployed. We are standing in the forest between shifts at work and duties with our families and children at home. We are doing this because it matters—it matters a great deal.

As barricades were assembled from garbage dumped down a hillside from the parking lot in Burnaby Mountain Park, an old, rusted oil barrel was uncovered and rolled up the hill. It’s a talisman, a symbol of the old world we are trying to resist and change. It is, we hope, the last oil barrel that will have anything to do with this mountain forest.


Pipeline Struggles: We are many, they are few

Where we at? Seems like doom is around the corner daily. How many degrees global warming scientists now predicting? Two, four, six degrees? Threat to civilization? Forget civilization—threat to life on earth (sixth extinction underway, more than 50% of the planet’s wildlife lost in the past 40 years). We’re not just not hitting the breaks—we’re stamping on the accelerator!

Inequality growing—the super rich clearly comfortably in charge—got the banks, got the governments, got the media—check, check and check. So—what are we going to do?

“We”? A problematic concept, much of the time. Full disclosure: I’m a white male settler on these indigenous lands—easy enough for me to say “we,” since history has danced to my tune (and I to its). But I think we need to remind ourselves of the we we can be, and need to be, in the face of the threat we all face (however diversely, and unevenly, it threatens us).

We are many, they are few. Sure, most are sitting on their cell phones, groping in their pants for the next digital distraction. But everywhere I look, indigenous people are rising up in the face of neo-colonial, expropriative extraction projects—mines, pipelines, LNG terminals, Tar Sands and fracking fields—met head on by the Wet’suwet’en at the Unist’ot’en Camp, the Tahltan, Tsilhqot’in, Tsleil-Waututh. And I have never seen so many, and such diverse, and so hungry for solidarity a host of grassroots groups organizing their opposition to ecocide and the totally and blatantly unsustainable capitalist system—Rising Tide, Ecosocialists, Climate Convergence, Left Front, BROKE, the Caretakers of Burnaby Mountain, to name a few here on these unceded Coast Salish territories.

We are many, they are few. But—equally as important—the spaces they, the exploiters, need to work in and move through are surprisingly small. A pipeline is a narrow device, no matter how long. The forest clearing Kinder Morgan has made in the Burnaby Mountain conservation area is small, the size of a good size back yard. They intend to drop equipment from a helicopter here, for seismic testing. Doesn’t take too many bodies to make that a difficult proposition.

I’m not sure what, exactly, it might take to stop the bastards who are ignoring climate change, ignoring indigenous land title, and doubling down on profit and exploitation. I don’t understand them—they who shrug off the science, shrug off any feeling of humanity, and decide to profit from the ride while it lasts. But I know this—because we are many, and they are few—because the spaces they need to work in, to make their billions, are really, actually, often quite small—I know we can bottle them up. I know, at this point, with enough of us, and putting ourselves in the right place—we can non-violently plug these money holes with our bodies, and force change in this system. Force it—by making the old way of making money too expensive, and forcing them to try something else.

I’m not sure I will like their “something else.” But I would take the reprieve, and in that reprieve, I hope we look around, see the solidarity we have built, see the people power we have engaged—and use that power to build a new world that leaves no room for rich and powerful exploiters of life on this planet.

There is considerable urgency. The National Energy Board will this week likely yet again give Kinder Morgan permission to continue its work on Burnaby Mountain. The time to stand up is now. Join us. Join the struggles. I’d be happy to put you in contact with organizations that are working on the ground. And if you want to keep US oil giant Kinder Morgan out of Burnaby and out of the Burnaby Mountain conservation area, please see: