Abbotsford/Chilliwack group opposes pipeline expansion

Group will meet again on May 17, 7 p.m. at the Yarrow Community Centre. Contact transmountaininfo@yahoo.ca.

In the Chilliwack/Abbotsford area, opposition is growing to the proposed twinning of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby.

Sheila Muxlow organized a panel discussion about the plan to increase oil capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 850,000. The event was held in April at UFV, and although Muxlow invited representatives of Kinder Morgan, as well as provincial and federal politicians, they declined to attend.

The meeting spawned a lobby group of some 100 concerned citizens who are on a “list group,” said Muxlow, and the group’s last meeting had about 30 participants.

She said they will meet again on May 17, 7 p.m. at the Yarrow Community Centre. Anyone wishing to attend should contact the group at transmountaininfo@yahoo.ca.

She wants to educate the public about tar sands oil.

“This product doesn’t have to get to market,” she said. “It’s part of an aging fossil fuel economy that we have to get away from.”

Muxlow has been involved in tar sands “environmental education and advocacy” in Alberta, and has been associated with both the Sierra Club and the Council of Canadians. In late April, she became a professional environmentalist, taking a position with the Living Oceans Society as their energy campaign director.

She said the growing group includes students, farmers, local environmentalists who campaigned against the Sumas Energy 2 plant in Washington State, and new residents of Chilliwack who purchased property in the pipeline right of way.

The group aims to conduct research, and has information beyond what Kinder Morgan is releasing to the public. For example, it is looking into how tar sands oil is more corrosive than conventional oil, whether it can cause leaks and other problems running through an aging pipeline. Muxlow is investigating the causes of earlier pipeline oil spills, and whether comparisons can be drawn.

She said the group has yet to decide what tactics it will use in opposing the pipeline expansion.

“That’s something that is yet to be determined. The key now is public education and outreach,” said Muxlow.

She said the twinning proposal is poor infrastructure planning, because the pipeline runs through such a densely populated area.

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