Oil Company: Stop Protesting Our Pipeline With Your Mean Faces

Canadian environmentalists are using the hashtag #KMFace to mock multibillion-dollar Kinder Morgan.

(Photo: Twitter)

Nov 13, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Nicole Pasulka is a writer and reporter who lives in New York City. She has written for Mother Jones, BuzzFeed, The Believer, and the New York Observer.

When was the last time someone sneered at you? Like really gave you the stink eye? If energy giant Kinder Morgan gets its way, it’s possible you won’t have to suffer such indignity any longer: If it wins in court, dirty looks could be construed to constitute assault.

In October, the Texas pipeline company received permission to begin surveying a site in a public park that would expand the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which transports about 300,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia, which borders Vancouver. The proposed $5.4 billion expansion would triple the amount of oil moving through the pipeline, which spilled 200,000 liters in 2007.

The mayor of Burnaby has tried to stop the company from surveying the site, but the National Energy Board overruled the city’s conservation bylaws.

Locals and environmentalists worry about the potential effects of a spill and have been staging passionate and colorful direct actions at survey sites.

Protesters allegedly surrounded crews that came to cut down trees in the park, threw away a company sign, erected a human blockade, and “blasted” a siren sound from a megaphone inches from the ear of a project leader, reports The Vancouver Observer.

Kinder Morgan is not amused.
Earlier this month, the company filed a lawsuit against five protesters. An attorney for the oil giant told a British Columbia Supreme Court on Nov. 5 that the protesters have an “abundance of exuberance and an absence of judgment” and said they were preparing to engage in acts of civil disobedience.
“You can see the expressions on faces. Picture 10 is important for that,” the attorney said, referring to photos of protesters he was showing the court. “That is not just intimidation; that is actually an assault.”
Kinder Morgan is asking for about $6 million in damages, though the attorney acknowledged that it would accept recovering no money if the protests stop.
The lawsuit has amused and appalled environmental activists, many of whom took to social media to mock the hysterical tone of Kinder Morgan’s counsel, adopting the hashtag #KMFace. It seems that potentially spilling toxic chemicals in Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area is OK, but looking angry about that prospect? Totally not.