More than a dozen protesters ranging from a three year old to senior citizens picketed near Langley MLA Mary Polak's office around lunchtime Wednesday, to show their opposition to proposed pipeline expansion through B.C.
Langley teacher Jonathan Dyck noted that First Nations people all along the pipeline route are opposed to the expansion because it will run through land they don't want to subject to "potential catastrophes."
"It's the wrong direction to go as a society anyway," Dyck said. "We need to be looking at other ways of using alternative sources of energy and overall learning to reduce our energy consumption. We can't keep growing and increasing and increasing."
Susan Davidson, a local organic farmer who is part of PIPE UP (Pro Information - Pro Environment - United People) said a pipeline, built more than 50 years ago to transport crude oil, already runs through the middle of Walnut Grove.
"The pipeline that is already there is already very, very risky for Walnut Grove and anybody living along the pipeline," Davidson said. "Without our knowing, Kinder Morgan purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline seven years ago and they switched, and they are now shipping the diluted bitumen from the tar sands."
Davidson said diluted bitumen is "far more toxic, far more corrosive, and far thicker," and therefore has to be shipped under greater pressure.
"So the likelihood of leaks happening has just risen exponentially without anybody being aware," she said.
The proposal to twin the pipeline will mean it will run right through a densely populated area, Davidson said.
Davidson said PIPE UP's goal is to educate people.
"I've taken the map of Langley and shown the citizens where the pipeline goes, and so many of them are appalled, and totally don't know it's there, and what it's doing," she said. "We feel people need to be informed to make choices."
Protesters are urging B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Prime Minister Stephen Harper not to allow either the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline that would carry bitumen from Alberta to Kitimat, or the planned twinning of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline that already carries Alberta oil to Burnaby.
Clark has laid out five conditions that need to be met before any heavy oil pipeline can proceed in B.C., which include: completion of the formal environmental review processes; world-leading marine and land oil spill response and prevention; and British Columbia receiving a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits.
According to PIPE UP, in February 2012, Kinder Morgan announced plans to build a new pipeline along side the existing one, allowing it to increase exports of diluted bitumen from 300,000 barrels per day to as much as 750,000 bpd.
Recently company officials have revealed that approximately one third of the pipeline's throughput is diluted bitumen, PIPE UP explains on its website, www.pipe-up.net, adding that about half of this amount goes through a pipeline from Sumas, Wash. to a Puget Sound refinery and the other half goes to the Westridge Terminal. There it is converted to back to bitumen and loaded on tankers which sail through Burrard Inlet and the Straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca to refineries in California and China.
- With files from Vancouver Sun reporter Jonathan Fowlie