As TransCanada filed its application on Nov. 3 to the National Energy Board (NEB) for its Energy East pipeline, the Council of Canadians vowed to continue building momentum against the project that is all risk and little reward for Canadian communities.
“We will fight Energy East every step of the way, and we are far from alone,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, the Council of Canadians’ energy and climate justice campaigner. “Right now we are in Atlantic Canada, where momentum is building against Energy East. Fishers, landowners, Indigenous people and local communities are becoming aware that Energy East will cause unsustainable expansion of the tar sands and asignificant increase in pollution, yet there is no mention of these impacts in TransCanada’s filing. The NEB refuses to recognize climate pollution impacts in its assessment of the project.
Meanwhile evidence shows the vast majority of crude transported is expected to be exported unrefined from ports in Cacouna, Quebec and Saint John, New Brunswick. The controversial Cacouna port would disturb a critical beluga whale habitat. Over a thousand people showed up last weekend to protest test drilling by TransCanada, there.
Pipeline spills along the route and tanker spills in the St. Lawrence or Bay of Fundy would jeopardize farmland, drinking water, fisheries and tourism, all important to local economies.
“Energy East is an accident waiting to happen,” says Mark Calzavara, Ontario-Quebec regional organizer with the Council of Canadians. “To save money, TransCanada wants to convert 3000 kms of its natural gas Mainline instead of building a new oil pipeline. Much of the Mainline system is over 40 years old and it has had 9 catastrophic failures since 1991. In the past year alone, TransCanada has had five pipelines blow up. Its safety record is bad and getting worse.”
“This is worse than regular oil,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “This massive export pipeline will pump diluted bitumen across thousands of our precious waterways, threatening them at a time when we desperately need to address a growing fresh water crisis.”
An Enbridge pipeline spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2010 saw diluted bitumen sink in the Kalamazoo River, making full cleanup impossible. Over four years later and after $1 billion spent on cleanup, submerged oil still remains in the river.
A recent Canadian federal report found that in cold salt water a spill of diluted bitumen would be particularly devastating, as it has been shown to form tar balls and sink in marine conditions like the Bay of Fundy.
Responding to these unacceptable risks, the Council of Canadians is currently hosting a five-community awareness-raising tour in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It previously held a six-community speaking tour in Ontario along the pipeline path, participated in TransCanada open houses, and engaged in the Ontario Energy Board Energy East consultations.
The Council of Canadians is one of Canada’s leading progressive advocacy organizations with more than 100,000 grassroots supporters and local chapters across the country.