Conservationists are mobilizing against the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
The killer whales that ply coastal waters near BC and Washington State are iconic to the area. Yet the newly approved Kinder Morgan pipeline threatens to drive this already-endangered population to extinction, conservationists warned on Wednesday, as Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson praised Justin Trudeau’s government for its “courage and determination” in making the controversial project a reality.
The $6.8 billion Trans Mountain expansion, which will carry oil products from Alberta to the BC coast, was one of two pipeline projects that got officially green-lighted in Canada on Tuesday: the other, Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement, will replace existing pipeline from Alberta to Manitoba. (A third proposed pipeline, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway, which has been mired in controversy and legal disputes, was rejected.)
There are only about 80 Southern Resident Killer Whales left, according to the nonprofit Center for Whale Research (CWR) in Washington State, which performs a yearly census on behalf of the US government. These animals are under tremendous pressure due to dwindling food supplies, pollution, and marine traffic. Environmentalists and biologists say the pipeline could drive them to the brink.
Even if there isn’t an oil spill, the increase in marine traffic and accompanying noise that’s expected to come as a result of the pipeline will make it harder for the whales to hunt for food, which they do using echolocation. Southern Residents, which feed exclusively on salmon, are already struggling with dwindling food supplies, because of overfishing and other factors.