On Monday April 7th the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) held a public hearing in Stittsville for TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Energy East pipeline. After Ontario’s Minister of Energy asked the OEB to examine and report back on the proposed project in November 2013, the OEB began a series of public consultations in the communities that fall within the proposed Energy East route. The Ontario government plans to ultimately intervene into the National Energy Board’s (NEB) hearing with a position that will be shaped by the OEB’s final recommendations. Ecology Ottawa has been working to educate and mobilize residents within the City of Ottawa to participate in the OEB hearings and other processes because of our concerns over the proposed Energy East pipeline. And so on a rainy Monday night in Stittsvile, the OEB heard a lot of opposition and little support for the Energy East pipeline.
Concerned Citizens of Ottawa
Roughly 200 residents from across the Ottawa region attended the public hearing including students from Carleton University, the Mayor of Merrickville, Ecology Ottawa, Nobel Women’s Initiative, Council of Canadians, 350 Ottawa, and the Ottawa Riverkeeper, who all pushed for the OEB to stand against the pipeline. Ben Powless, Ecology Ottawa’s Pipeline Community Organizer addressed the audience by stating “This pipeline would increase the risks to our country from climate change, to our city from increased railway traffic, and to our waterways from the threat of pipeline spills. We have to say no to this pipeline.”
Andrea Harden, Council of Canadians
This pipeline would cancel out any climate benefit that Ontario would see from phasing out the use of coal”, stated Andrea Harden (pictured above) from the Council of Canadians. She further addressed the risk of a diluted bitumen spill, specifically to highly vulnerable aquifers such as the oxford aquifer that more than 70% of North Grenville rely on. Stephanie Bolt (pictured below) for the Ottawa Riverkeeper echoed the concerns of spills, and what it would mean for the Ottawa rivershed. 350 Ottawa representative Muthanna Sabbaiah proposed that an “oil spill is a matter of when not if”.
Stephanie Bolt, Ottawa Riverkeeper
One concern that was continuously brought up at the hearing was the impacts that this pipeline would have on climate change. Right from the beginning Aleck Dadson from the OEB was asked by the public to clarify why climate change was not included in the environmental impacts that the OEB are tasked to asses. “It is an issue that has been raised and heard from people at every one of the meetings. It is clearly an issue we will address and assess”, said Aleck in response.
Carleton University students (pictured below) asked the OEB to take the effects of climate change into consideration as we move forward, with this project being proposed “in midst of a global climate crisis”.“Any infrastructure means further expansion of the tar sands…eroding our ability to combat climate change” explained Muthanna Sabbaiah from 350 Ottawa.
Carleton University Students
The meeting was filled with overwhelming opposition for the Energy East pipeline, which became apparent when the facilitators asked if everyone in the room was opposed to the pipeline, and well over 90% of the hands went up. With all of the feedback they have received across Ontario, the OEB will form preliminary recommendations and will be back in the same communities for a second round of public consultations. We at Ecology Ottawa hope you will join us.
Democracy in Action
Here’s a brief video of the highlights from the interventions that night.