March 16, 2022
Hollywood elites are sounding off in opposition to the Coastal Gaslink (CGL) pipeline project currently underway in British Columbia.
The pipeline — which is more than 60% complete — will transport natural gas 670 km across northern BC to a liquefied natural gas export facility being constructed by LNG Canada and its partners near Kitimat, BC where it will then be prepared for export to global markets.
The project has conjured up a whirlwind of controversy, met by vicious opposition from some and staunch support from others. Most recently to oppose CGL is a swath of Hollywood celebrities who have signed on to a campaign called “No More Dirty Banks.”
Supported by Hollywood names such as Scarlett Johansson, Amy Schumer, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Stiller, and dozens more, the campaign’s mandate is to end Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC) financing of the CGL pipeline. RBC is the parent company to City National Bank (CNB), referred to as the “bank of the stars.”
"The world is burning around us. We're in the middle of a war because of fossil fuels. The signs couldn't be more urgent than they are right now." — @MarkRuffalo
— act.tv (@actdottv) March 16, 2022
“RBC has the power to stop Coastal GasLink in its tracks, before the drill goes under the river and destroys the sacred waters, which could begin at any time,” writes the campaign on its website.
“Use this tool to send a message directly to RBC & CNB executives. Tell them to stop profiting from the violation of indigenous rights, defund Coastal GasLink and shut down the drilling now.”
In a meticulously produced video posted to the campaign’s website, actor Mark Ruffalo condemned the banks for financing pipelines and bulldozing through the Wet’suwet’en nation’s land without consent of the hereditary chiefs.
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) March 15, 2022
While the hereditary chiefs oppose the pipeline, the project is supported by the elected indigenous governments along the route. Last week TC Energy Corporation signed option agreements with indigenous communities for an equity stake in the project.
“The finalization of the option agreement represents a historic milestone in our desire to participate as equity owners in Coastal GasLink,” said Chief Corrina Leween, Cheslatta Carrier Nation.
“For many of us, this marks the first time that our nations have been included as owners in a major natural resource project that is crossing our territories. This deal is important because it demonstrates the value first nations can bring as true partners in major projects.”
The deals follow indigenous groups expressing interest in becoming owners in CGL along with Alberta Investment Management Corporation, KKR, and TC Energy.
“For years we have watched industry and governments generate revenues from the operations of their projects, while we live with the impacts,” said Chief Justin Napoleon, Saulteau First Nations.
“This investment in Coastal GasLink will finally start to shift the landscape, aligning industry and indigenous peoples’ interests over the entire life cycle of a project.”
Despite the support of elected indigenous leaders, vicious opposition to the project continues. The reason is that the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have not provided consent for the project to take place within Gidimt’en territory.
The hereditary chiefs met with RBC and CNB officials in February, demanding the bank withdraw financial support for the pipeline by March 11.
“We told RBC leadership directly that the bank’s financing of the Coastal GasLink pipeline threatens our medicine, our water, our ancestral lands, our culture and our homes,” said the hereditary chiefs in a joint statement following the meeting.
“Our sacred headwaters, the Wedzin Kwa river, is the lifeline for our people, and it’s profoundly at risk. Financing Coastal GasLink is the exact opposite of reconciliation.”
The hereditary chiefs say the project’s risks are drastically downplayed by CGL, calling it a “toxic project” threatening ecologically sensitive waterways.
Several demonstrations have taken place by protesters claiming to act on behalf of the hereditary chiefs. In November 2021 demonstrators blocked a worker’s camp, trapping roughly 500 workers without food or water before RCMP dismantled the blockade and made numerous arrests. Of those arrested were two videographers, sparking viral outrage.