Eric Tegethoff

Washington News Service

SEATTLE — The mother of all pipelines could be coming to the Northwest, and Native Americans in the region want their voices heard on the proposal.

The Houston-based company Kinder Morgan’s expanded TransMountain Pipeline would stretch from the Alberta tar sands to Puget Sound and could transport nearly 900,000 barrels of crude each day. That’s more than both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

It also could increase the number of oil tankers in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, sevenfold.

Jewell James, with the Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office for the Lummi Nation, said his and other U.S. tribes tried to intervene when Canada’s National Energy Board approved permits for this pipeline.

“We felt that our voice was basically ignored, our concerns were ignored, and we think the energy board pretty much has sold out not only our people, but their people,” he said.

Construction of the new pipeline could begin as soon as September. U.S. tribes have been working with First Nation tribes in Canada, who have filed a lawsuit against the pipeline and promise to use any means necessary to oppose it.

Kinder Morgan has said it plans to have a more expansive rapid response team in place in the event of spills or leaks.

But conservation groups still are concerned about water quality and the impact of more tankers on Northwest species such as the dwindling population of Southern resident orcas, which are protected as endangered species.

James and the Lummi Nation are concerned about the impact a spill could have on the waters where they fish.

“The Lummi Nation, like many tribes that are fishing tribes, have a great investment in hatchery stock production but also in wild stock protection,” he explained. “So, the quality of the environment that our fish go through is a major force for us to consider.”

James emphasized the importance of the public trust, which he described as the right of the public to have clean water, air and food.

“The idea of the public trust has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years, but it’s been pretty much ignored because of the dominance of corporate orientations in opinions and influence,” James pointed out.


Washington News Service is a part of the Public News Service, an independent member-supported national news service based in Boulder, Colo., that distributes public interest news and information. Support comes from grants, gifts and memberships from individuals, foundations, nonprofit organizations and businesses for social responsibility.

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