Greenpeace USA released a report Tuesday, June 26, 2018 documenting the threat that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project poses to local communities along the Pacific Coast. Greenpeace released the report while the historic ship, the Arctic Sunrise, sails the Salish Sea off the Washington coast near Seattle, Tacoma, Bellingham, and the San Juan Island. The ship is following the route that would experience a seven-fold increase in tar sands oil tanker traffic if the pipeline expansion is completed.
The Arctic Sunrise docked at the Friday Harbor Marina overnight Wednesday, June 27.
The report documents the communities threatened by the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, which would worsen the effects of global warming, risk poisoning water, jeopardize the hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend on clean coasts, violate Indigenous sovereignty, and threaten the extinction of the Southern Resident Orca Whale, of which only 75 remain.
For photographs of Greenpeace’s journey through the Salish Sea, click HERE.
“If the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is built, the seven-fold increase in tar sands tanker traffic and the associated risks laid out in this report show clearly that the threats of this pipeline project don't end at the water’s edge,” Greenpeace USA senior research specialist Tim Donaghy said. “The costs and risks of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project will be borne by Indigenous and other communities along the pipeline and tanker superhighway routes, as well as by the wildlife and ecosystems that will be impacted. Any of the the communities along the U.S. Pacific Coast are threatened by an increase in oil tanker traffic. For the sake of the health and safety of our communities, local economies, ocean life, and our climate, it is critical for us all to fight to ensure that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is halted.”
Included in the report:
The proposed Trans Mountain Expansion Project would increase seven-fold the number of tar sands tankers traveling from Vancouver, Canada, through the Salish Sea and down the Pacific Coast of the United States.
A map and analysis of 176 oil tanker and barge departures from the Westridge Marine Terminal in British Columbia from 2013 to the beginning of 2018 show that more than half (94) of those departures sailed the length of the Pacific Coast to the port of Long Beach, California, with significant numbers heading to destinations in Washington State (36), the San Francisco Bay Area (23), and various locations in Asia and Hawaii (17).
These results indicate that while the physical pipeline may stop at the water’s edge, a diluted bitumen spill remains a risk for coastal communities all along the Pacific Coast — from British Columbia to Washington to Oregon to California.
The endangered Southern Resident Orca Whale population could be driven toward extinction by the increased ship noise as well as the risk of oil spills and ship strikes resulting from the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.
Coastal communities that rely on fishing and tourism have suffered billions of dollars in economic damages following previous catastrophic marine oil spills.
This is a major concern to Pacific communities. The $60 billion coastal economy of Washington, Oregon and California currently supports more than 150,000 jobs in commercial fishing and more than 525,000 jobs in coastal tourism. In fact, studies have found that a major oil spill in Washington would cost $10.8 billion, and one in Vancouver would cost $1.2 billion (CAD).
The Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, is on a tour of the Pacific Coast and stopped in Seattle for two weeks to raise awareness about the dangers that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project poses if completed. After the ship completes its journey through the Salish Sea, it will continue following the tanker route off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California, making port stops in San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
The Indigenous-led movement against pipelines continues to win victories and gain momentum across North America. Last month, energy company Kinder Morgan abandoned its Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project after it faced an overwhelming wave of protests and negative press across Canada and in the Pacific Northwest. The Keystone XL pipeline also continues to suffer from one delay after another as a result of mounting opposition and lawsuits. And in total, two out of five proposed new tar sands oil pipelines have been canceled in the face of similar challenges.
As major banks like HSBC continue to defund tar sands oil projects, the message to banks and shareholders should be clear: pipelines that attempt to violate Indigenous sovereignty and threaten the environment—including the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, Keystone XL, and Line 3—will continue to face growing resistance that make each project too great a financial and reputational liability to be worthy of investment.