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Indigenous, Green Groups Warn Banks Against Kinder Morgan Loans

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More than two dozen Indigenous and environmental organizations have written to 28 major lenders to U.S.-based Kinder Morgan Inc., warning them against the “ethical, reputational, and financial risk” of underwriting a project that contributes to climate change and “Indigenous rights abuses,” and raising the spectre of confrontations [1] like last year’s fight over the Dakota Access pipeline.

The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, West Coast Environmental Law, Oil Change International, Greenpeace Canada, and 350.org are among the groups calling on financial institutions to back away from the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, which would reroute and triple the capacity of the Texas company’s existing Alberta-to-B.C. diluted bitumen conduit.

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Among banks that underwrote the Kinder Morgan Canada IPO, and who received the letter, are Bank of America, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Credit Suisse, JPMorgan Chase, National Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank, and Toronto-Dominion Bank. Banks that have offered Kinder Morgan current or past credit facilities included BBVA, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Crédit Agricole, Morgan Stanley, UBS, and Wells Fargo.

“With financing [for Trans Mountain] apparently being finalized shortly, we urge your institutions to heed the lessons learned from the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), and decline any additional involvement with Kinder Morgan that would facilitate financing of its pipeline expansion. In particular, we urge you not to arrange or participate in Kinder Morgan’s planned C$5.5 billion Credit Facility,” the groups’ letter [3] read. “[B]anks that choose to participate in the new credit facilities, and banks acting as underwriters in the recent Kinder Morgan Canada IPO, will be priority targets for Indigenous, environmental, and community groups.”

Some commenters [4], along with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley [5], have cast the standoff between the pipeline’s supporters and opponents as a constitutional showdown over whether the national government has the power to ensure its decisions (such as pipeline approvals) are respected. “We can’t be a country that says one of its two functional coastlines is only going to do what the people who live right beside it want to do,” Notley said [5] late last month,

But the latest letter should remind Notley and other observers that there is a third order of government in Canada, with stature equal to the provincial or federal Crown: Indigenous governments. And many of those—not only along the B.C. coast—are firmly opposed to the American company’s pipeline.

“Mark my words,” UBCIC Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told Notley. “Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project will never see the light of day. We do not accept the unscrupulous liability of dirty oil coming through any pipeline system to benefit some Texans or multinational interests at the expense of our inherent responsibilities to our grandchildren’s grandchildren.” 

“As banks consider financing Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion tar sands pipeline, they should know that the over 120 First Nations and Tribes that have signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands [6] Expansion will not let this project happen,” added Grand Chief Serge Simon of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake. “Indigenous and allied resistance to the pipeline will not be limited to B.C. either—it will be all over Turtle Island, and will also target the banks that chose to ignore our opposition.”

“The existing Trans Mountain pipeline,” a UBCIC release adds, “has sprung 82 recorded spills, including four major spills since Kinder Morgan bought the pipeline in 2005. The Trans Mountain Expansion Project would not only triple Trans Mountain’s capacity—transporting an additional 590,000 barrels of crude oil each day—it would lock in expanded production of one of the most carbon-intensive oils, Alberta tar sands oil.”