Pipeline Wine & Cheese

Pipeline-wine-n-cheeseLast night I hosted a party for neighbours in Kitchissippi Ward so we could tell our elected officials face to face in a friendly way that we have deep concerns about the Energy East pipeline.

Our City Councillor, MPP and MP all came and all stayed for the duration; talking about pipelines, spills and climate change for almost three hours with their voters.

Please use the comments section of this blogpost to keep the conversation going.

If the Kitchissippi event inspired you and you’d like to organize a similar event elsewhere, we can give you tips for your neighbourhood.  (it’s easy).

More than 40 people had RSVPed and almost all of them came. Once the party was warmed up I rang the dinner bell and made a few announcements before the politicians each spoke.

My main message was that there are two important reasons why people should be concerned about the pipeline. First, with the Canadian Petroleum Producers forecasting a 632% increase in bitumen production out of Alberta, any mode of transport—train or pipeline—will be riskier with those huge increases in volume.

Second, the product the pipeline will carry—call it oil sands oil or tar sands oil—when used as intended, will add to our climate change challenge. To allow the pipeline is to allow investment that will demand financial returns for decades; the returns being oil sales—that 632% increase—each barrel of which makes the climate crisis worse.

Katherine Hobbs spoke first, itemizing the things she’s done in her own life to be a responsible environmental citizen. She gave some assurances that measures were being taken to make the pipeline safe but was unable to tell us that the City of Ottawa would be acting to resist the use of a route for Alberta bitumen that crosses within city limits; though she admitted there was nothing in it at all for Ottawa, and that spill risk and climate change contributions were legitimate concerns.

There were many questions from attendees and a general feeling among many that there should be a push among citizens to ask the City to take a position resisting the pipeline.

Ontario Energy Board process timeline

Ontario Energy Board process timeline

Yasir Naqvi was next and spoke of the Ontario Energy Board’s Energy East pipeline consultation making the point that we had until March to get our input in to the inquiry. Lots of questions for Yasir too, one of which was to what degree the scientific community was going to be listened to in the consultations specifically with respect to the climate change implications—another attendee commenting that there wasn’t uncertainty when it came to the scientific advice on climate change. Yasir assured us scientists would be able to contribute, though I didn’t get the sense those scientific inputs would necessarily be foundational to the OEB output.

Paul Dewar was the last to talk and among other things he re-emphasized the points that came through Katherine and Yasir’s remarks that the real control over this process resides at the federal level with the current government who have hollowed out people’s ability to participate in the oversight of pipeline projects like this. Paul said he didn’t see, with all the negative sides to the development of this pipeline how it could be supported.

The evening continued with people chatting in groups about the issues.

One interesting point that came out during the discussions was that the conversion of the existing pipeline from natural gas to bitumen would cause a new problem in supplying natural gas. This has caused the irony that Enbridge is opposing TransCanada in converting the pipeline.

All in all it was a very satisfying evening where I think people felt they had a chance to be heard and our elected representatives were given a strong but friendly reminder that this is an important issue for us.

6 Comments on “Pipeline Wine & Cheese

  1. Thanks for your hospitality Charles. Lots of interesting conversations. My bottom line is how to make the oil sands sustainable (difficult to stop their development). My preference is to see them upgraded in Canada for value-added to Canada. Then we have a different product being transported; not bitumen. Also, carbon taxes areneeded with proceeds going to clean energy initiatives. Plus, stop the subsidies to the oil sector.

  2. Thanks for your generous hospitality Charles. It was a very engaging evening. I favour slower tar sands development, refining near source, and maintenance of the Energy East pipeline for natural gas.

  3. Re: “that the conversion of the existing pipeline from natural gas to bitumen would cause a new problem in supplying natural gas”.

    Even worse, the reduction in gas in the existing pipeline from the west (which is rapidly declining anyway) means that Ontario will have to start importing dirty FRACKed gas from the US to support all of our building heating and industry that has been converted to natural gas. Contrary to the belief that gas is “clean”, reports indicate that an average of 3.4% of fracked gas escapes (fugitive gas) and since the IPCC has pegged the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of methane, the principal component of natural gas, at 72, 72 * 3.4 % = 245% makes it actually worse than coal from a GWP point of view! Then there’s the economic side of having to import fuel…



  4. Our MPP Yasir Naqvi followed up after seeing this blog post saying:


    I had the chance to read your blog on the wine and cheese event. You raised the point about whether scientists would be consulted in the OEB process. Here is some more information that sheds light on that question.

    The Minister of Energy in his letter to the OEB stated the following:

    “With respect to assessing proposed pipeline projects, the Government of Ontario has adopted the following six principles:
    • Pipelines must meet the highest available technical standards for public safety and environmental protection;
    • Pipelines must have world leading contingency planning and emergency response programs;
    • Proponents and governments must fulfil their duty to consult obligations with Aboriginal communities;
    • Local communities must be consulted;
    • Projects should provide demonstrable economic benefits and opportunities to the people of Ontario, over both the short and long term; and
    • Economic and environmental risks and responsibilities, including remediation, should be borne exclusively by the pipeline companies, who must also provide financial assurance demonstrating their capability to respond to leaks and spills.”
    The letter further states Minister’s expectation for a robust consultation with the public, that is broad and transparent. In particular it states: “The Board may also wish to engage and consult external experts including the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.”

    I have been informed that in order to ensure that there is a wide-range of perspectives represented, organizations representing a variety of sectoral interests have been asked to participate. These organizations include those representing the academic community, agriculture, business, construction, electricity utilities, environmental groups, First Nations and Métis communities, industrial and institutional gas consumers, landowners, mining, municipalities, oil and gas industry, public health, residential gas consumers, social organizations, and tourism.

    I hope this helps.



  5. Pingback: Engaging on Energy: A “Pipeline Wine and Cheese” | Green Living Ottawa

  6. Most appreciative of Charles efforts and generosity of time and space to provide us with a gathering to network and continue the dialogue on the merits and pitfalls of more fossil fuel infrastructure in the Ottawa core and potentially throughout eastern Canada.

    Disappointed that all three candidates from municipal, provincial and federal saw no alternative to the proposed pipeline, seeing it as practically inevitable. I especially remember Paul Dewar’s comments in this regard. I don’t look at this way. There are many people waking up to the grave dangers of climate change which we will have to deal with no matter what we end up doing, but will be progressively worse if we continue on this fossil fuel binge. I hope that more scientific rationalization and discussion will take place but unfortunately our mainstream media has been co-opted by corporate interests, that profit from fossil fuels and we are hard pressed to read about the pros and cons of more oil development vs an alternative energy approach.

    The federal government is still subsidizing the fossil fuel industry to the tune of around 1.5 Billion per year. That money and much more nedd to be used to subsidize a renewable energy approach. Climate change is the ticking time bomb.

    Just today, I saw an article that says methane leaking from the tundra in Canada and Siberia is 86X more potent than C02 over 20 years (previously thought to be 34X over 100 years). Quote from Paul Beckwith (climatologist on Climate Change, Ottawa University).

    That is all for now. Thanks again to Charles and his family for hosting this event. …Kensky

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