Conversation with Lynn Perrin on More Pipeline Concerns

by | February 16, 2019

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

“Lynn is the parent of two adult daughters and grandmother of a 12 year old boy. She was a very mature student who got Bachelor of General Studies degree from the University of the Fraser Valley and Master of Public Policy degree from Simon Fraser University in her 50s. She is a public policy analyst and have used federal and BC legislation to access information for 20 years. Music, recreational fishing and working in the soil feed her soul.

She first encountered Kinder Morgan contractors near her home when they were clearing trees in the greenspace near her home, and she became aware of the expansion proposal. She was also present at the public meeting after the 2012 SumasTank Farm spill.

She was feeling very vulnerable to the risks from a diluted bitumen spillat the time that PIPE UP Network was formed and became active at the time if itsinception. Belonging to a group of like-minded people has significantly increased her belief in the power of people to take care of each other – no matter how challenging our opponent is.”


Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let’s start from the top. You are highly involved with pipeline issues within British Columbia. Recently, there was a written argument to the NEB. For those who may not know, what is the NEB? What is Trans Mountain?

Lynn Perrin: The National Energy Board is a quasi-judicial body that is taking applications from energy companies and approving them or not. [Laughing] usually, it is with conditions. It is for energy infrastructure that crosses provincial boundaries, whether oil and gas pipelines, or electrical transmission lines.

Trans Mountain is a pipeline that has been transporting oil and gas since 1953. It has been owned by various organizations with the last one being Kinder Morgan. In May of 2018, it was purchased by the federal government as a crown corporation.

They are also trying to get the expansion built. So, the original pipeline is 300,000 barrels per day capacity. They want to add 530,000 per day. Purportedly, it is to ship to Asia rather than the United States. That is about it, for those two.

Jacobsen: The big picture here is climate change or global warming with further emphasis on anthropogenic or human-induced global warming. Do these two – let’s say – bodies take these into account in terms of future impacts, or are they only focused on the short-term profit?

Perrin: While they say this is within the national interest, most opponents would strongly disagree with it. Upstream emissions are being examined by the NEB. They are refusing to look at the downstream emissions, which, of course, are significant, especially with the bitumen. 

It is very carbon-heavy oil. What is interesting, the NEB agreed to look at the downstream emissions with regard to the Energy East pipeline proposal but are still refusing to do it with the Trans Mountain proposal. 

At this very moment, Stand Earth, one of the intervenors, has notice of application that the NEB wouldn’t examine those downstream emissions due to the climate change implications and the effects that they would have on species-at-risk in the Salish Sea, such as ocean acidification.

Jacobsen: Also, recently, what is, or was, witnessing to the Trans Mountain survey of the mountain beaver habitat?

Perrin: Oh! Trans Mountain is doing an integrity dig on Sumas Mountain. The government bought two pipelines. One goes from Hardisty, Alberta to Westridge Terminal, BC. The other terminal goes from Sumas Terminal Tank Farm, Abbotsford down to Washington state.

They have three refineries down there. So, the integrity dig is on the pipeline going down to Washington State refineries. One of the owners has it on her property. She took photos of the beaver habitat there. It is a very shy animal.

It is really hard to get any documentation on it, at all. But we have been there twice now. The biologist hired by Trans Mountain did find some tunnels and some dens. His first comment, “These haven’t been, recently, used.”

We found the Trans Mountain biologists downplayed the evidence, whether it is a red-tailed frog, Pacific water shrew, mountain beaver, and so on. They really try to play down the presence of those species that are threatened species.

Yesterday, we had other biologists there, to go and have a look with the Trans Mountain people/contractors. There are some cameras installed and more dens have been found there.

Jacobsen: In terms of the media representation, how often, as a qualitative analysis, is the reportage accurate? How often is it inaccurate representation? How often is it outright lies?

Perrin: It depends on the media. Postmedia, they have a formal agreement with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. That they are going to publish articles shining a good light on the industry. 

That is a fact. It is a well-known fact. The alternative media – the National Observer, the Star, the Tyee, the Narwhal – are going to give a different lens on the situation and its probably a bit biased towards the opponents. 

But I think it balances out the likes of the Vancouver Sun, the Province, the Globe and Mail, and so on, are putting out there. Local paper, in Abbotsford reporter Tyler Olsen, it is very balanced. When he does articles, he goes to both proponent and opponents of it.

Tyler quite often calls me when something comes up.

Jacobsen: Also, something that we cannot ignore. It is the leadership of Indigenous communities around the province being done by others and yourself. What have been important allies in this work?

Perrin: First of all, PIPE UP has been allies of First Nations directly affected. I mean pipelines directly on their territory: the Tsleil-Waututh from North Vancouver Burrard Inlet since 2012, the Sumas less time than that, the Stó:lō Nation early on when PIPE UP was first becoming a group like in 2012. We were working with them.

We have a very positive and respectful relationship with the Kwantlen First Nation. We have an understanding of how we interact with them. In fact, one of the Kwantlen people is a director of PIPE UP. 

Jacobsen: Some may feel confusion based on some of the media reportage based on conflicting messages that they may be getting. On the one hand, some First Nations support pipeline work. On the other hand, some do not. 

If we were to take a closer look at this, how many support it? How many are against it? How does this balance or disbalance out in the end analysis?

Perrin: I think of the 130+ First Nations that are somehow affected by this. 33 have signed benefit agreements with Kinder Morgan-Trans Mountain. However, many of them will say that because they have signed the benefit does not mean that they are in favor of the expansion.

They are kind of in a corner. If they did not sign a benefit agreement, and if the expansion did go ahead and did have a financial impact on them, they would be missing out on any compensation.

Jacobsen: Any other updates?

Perrin: What PIPE UP has really been working on during the original hearing and during the Reconsideration is the salmon habitat and protecting that, we were among the few in this last hearing, the few intervenors, who, actually, tried to address the freshwater habitat of chinook, especially, and to some extent, chum salmon.

Because they are the main prey – over 90% – of the food of the endangered southern resident killer whales. In fact, just in December, the committee that is responsible to report on if a species is endangered or threatened has listed a number of chinook species in BC that are either endangered or threatened.

Then, of course, this relates to the southern resident killer whales because this is their food. Over and over again, studies show that lack of chinook salmon is the leading cause of death of the southern resident killer whales.

We will see what the NEB has to say about our final written argument. I am always wearing my rose-colored glasses and try to be optimistic about, and will see, if they will agree with PIPE UP. That if they are going to be crossing chinook spawning areas, then they have to use horizontal drilling instead of open trench. That is what we are hoping for.

We are hoping that the NEB will agree with us. One of the experts, we are so lucky, Dr. Marvin Rosenau. He teaches at BCIT. He is highly regarded as a biologist. He is the one who issued the report for us, to submit to the NEB.

Hopefully, they will take a really good look at that.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Lynn.

Perrin: Thanks, Scott.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott:

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Other Resources: Recovering From Religion.

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

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