Earlier this week, Ecojustice was invited to participate on a panel that debated the pros and cons of Kinder Morgan’s planned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The event, which was well attended by pipeline opponents and industry folk alike, was a unique opportunity for both sides to come to the table and state their positions before a diverse audience. Participants included well-known Canadian activist Tzeporah Berman and Kinder Morgan’s Michael Davies.

Staff lawyer Karen Campbell attended on behalf of Ecojustice. Karen, who is working with a group of Burnaby landowners directly affected by the pipeline plan, pushed Kinder Morgan to answer tough questions about safety measures and risk assessment.

Late last week, after a groundswell of public opposition to pipelines, we learned that the National Energy Board (NEB) ruled to shut the Burnaby residents we represent out of upcoming toll application hearings for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The ruling is disappointing, given that — judging from the turnout at this week’s debate — public concern about pipelines is at an all-time high.

And while Ecojustice has been critical of Kinder Morgan’s seemingly inconsistent approach to public consultation, we also recognize that the company’s decision to participate in this week’s debate was a positive step.

We stand at a critical juncture of Canada’s history. From coast-to-coast-to-coast Canadians are talking about energy — how we’re producing it, how we’re transporting it and how to make it more sustainable. There are no easy answers, but open, respectful debate is one way we can start to bridge the gulf between groups that, on the surface, look like natural opponents.

Beneath it all, we all want the same thing: A Canada where everyone has what they need to thrive. For some, that translates to economic indicators. For others, it means a wealth of biodiversity. At Ecojustice, we believe a healthy environment = healthy Canadians = healthy economies.

And as Canada grapples with tough issues like pipelines, oilsands and fossil fuel consumption, Ecojustice’s legal and scientific work — made possible by the incredible support of Canadians like you — matters more now than ever.