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caption: Traditional cedar hats abound as Washington tribal leaders speak at an "oral traditional evidence" hearing held by the National Energy Board in Victoria, B.C.
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Traditional cedar hats abound as Washington tribal leaders speak at an "oral traditional evidence" hearing held by the National Energy Board in Victoria, B.C.
Credit: National Energy Board

Trans Mountain expansion all but approved, despite indigenous opposition

On Friday, Canadian regulators endorsed the long-fought oil pipeline, which would bring more oil vessels through Washington state waters.

The Canadian government proposal would lengthen the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which would allow the country to ship more oil overseas and bring in higher prices. Now, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is widely expected to approve it.

The pipeline would bring hundreds more oil tankers a year through Washington and Canada, from 40 now to about 600 annually.

Environmental advocates and indigenous communities say the pipeline expansion would devastate killer whale and salmon habitat, and threaten more oil spills.

"We're gravely disappointed and angry," said Raynell Morris of the Lummi Indian Business Council. "We need to stop any development or increase in vessel traffic on the Salish Sea."

Morris said it's going to be a battle to fight the major oil pipeline expansion in Canada. But Washington and Canadian tribal communities plan to keep fighting the pipeline expansion, despite the National Energy Board's endorsement.

In recent months, tribal leaders and the state of Washington formally asked the Canadian government to halt pipeline construction, until more is known about how it would impact orcas and the Earth.

They see noise and vessel pollution as a threat to orca habitat.

"The orcas have been crying out to us, the mother carrying her dead baby for over 16 days is a clear cry for help," Morris said. "It is extremely threatening."