First Nations leaders make their case at Kinder Morgan annual general meeting
Energy giant Kinder Morgan is vowing to issue annual sustainability reports, according to a group of B.C. First Nations leaders who attended the companies annual general meeting in Houston, Texas on Wednesday. The proposal came after Neskonlith Indian Band Chief Judy Wilson made a presentation to shareholders today.
“Kinder Morgan has been promoting the Trans-Mountain expansion to its stockholders without explaining all the drastic risks of Indigenous opposition, backed by court decisions recognizing our Indigenous Rights,” Wilson said. “This morning at the AGM, I was overwhelmed and impressed with the understanding from stockholders of the need to have our Indigenous Title and Rights, and Treaty Rights, respected in order for their investments to have any certainty.”
Wilson and Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative member Rueben George travelled to Houston for the shareholders meeting. First Nation support for the pipeline is divided. There are 33 B.C. nations along the pipeline route who have signed benefit agreements with Kinder Morgan.
There are 120 Alberta and B.C. First Nations groups along the existing Trans Mountain pipeline. The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion has a list of 53 First Nations in B.C. that are against the project.
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The Texas-based pipeline giant has told the federal government it will back away from the project at the end of May if it does not have assurances that the project can be executed successfully, without British Columbia standing in the way.
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“I came to Houston two years ago, and three years ago, to warn stockholders that the Trans Mountain expansion would not be built and that we were not going to provide our consent. We are pleased to hear that they are now coming around to this reality, but we are sorry that all this time and money has been spent,” George said. “It could have been avoided and having a sustainability report might have allowed Kinder Morgan’s board of directors to more accurately evaluate these project risks.”
Kinder Morgan stopped unnecessary spending on the $7.4-billion expansion in April, blaming the B.C. government. British Columbia has launched a legal challenge in order to get the B.C. Court of Appeal to rule on jurisdictional rights of the province to stand in the way of the project. The federal government has applied to argue in favour of the pipeline and both the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments are strongly in favour of the expansion.
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