Over 20 Indigenous and environmental organizations have banded together to deliver an open letter this week to 28 major banks, warning them against financing the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in Canada.
The letter says the financial institutions will bear both a reputational and financial risk if they support the “destructive project,” which they say violates both the Paris Climate Agreement and the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
"Mark my words, Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project will never see the light of day," declared Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of the B.C. Indian Chiefs in the western province of British Colombia. "We do not accept the unscrupulous liability of dirty oil coming through any pipeline system to benefit some Texans or multinational interests at the expense of our inherent responsibilities to our grandchildren's grandchildren."
The letter was issued as the project’s financing is to be finalized in the coming weeks.
The pipeline expansion is set to carry toxic tar sands oil from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia, and would triple Trans Mountain's capacity — transporting an additional 590,000 barrels of crude oil each day. The existing Trans Mountain pipeline already has a record of 82 spills, including four major spills since Kinder Morgan bought the pipeline in 2005.
“As banks consider financing Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion tar sands pipeline, they should know that the over 120 First Nations and Tribes that have signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion will not let this project happen,” said Grand Chief Serge Simon of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake on behalf of the Treaty.
"Indigenous and allied resistance to the pipeline will not be limited to BC either — it will be all over Turtle Island and will also target the banks that chose to ignore our opposition,” he added.
The groups are also urging the banks, which include Bank of America, Royal Bank of Canada, and Wells Fargo among dozens of others, to take heed of the lessons from the Dakota Access pipeline south of the border.
“As with DAPL — a highly controversial project constructed without the free, prior and informed consent of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other affected tribal nations that source their drinking water from the Missouri River — the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion also poses a grave threat to Indigenous rights,” urged the letter.