In disappointing news from Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau is sticking by his decision to move ahead with the  Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline  – a controversial and long-debated expansion that would triple the amount of tar sands oil being moved to the coast in British Columbia (BC), where the oil would be loaded onto tankers headed out to sea directly through critical habitat for the endangered Southern Resident orca community.  Inland construction of the pipeline also  impacts streams vital to the survival of salmon  that both the  Northern and Southern Resident orca communities  rely on.
Oil tanker and barge traffic through this sensitive area would increase to as many as 408 tankers per year – a  700% increase  in large vessels moving through orca habitat.  Not only does this significantly increase man-made noise and the potential for ship strikes, but also the risk of a catastrophic oil spill in Southern Resident orca habitat, which would be devastating for the small orca community and the entire ecosystem of the Salish Sea.  Two additional problems make the situation even more concerning:
1) There is no marine mammal response plan for an oil spill in Canada , despite such a plan being considered a “high priority” for the Canadian Government; and
2)  The oil in the pipeline and tankers would be tar sands oil in the form of diluted bitumen (“dillbit”), a much heavier type that is  very difficult and expensive to clean up after a spill.
On top of all that, the ruggedness of the BC coast and the often challenging weather conditions can make response efforts even more difficult.  Concerns about the Canadian government’s ability to respond to emergency incidents have been rising with  recent incidents off the BC coast and changes to a proposed tanker moratorium for the northern BC coast.