by Caitlin Armstrong
Last month the Ontario and Quebec governments agreed to 7 conditions the Energy East Pipeline would have to meet before it can be approved. We believe that these 7 conditions will never be met and that Energy East will never be built. The opposition is strong and steadily getting stronger; in Ottawa we have already received support from over 6,000 residents.
Here are the 7 conditions and why they will never be met:
#1 Compliance with the highest available technical standards for public safety and environmental protection;
TransCanada puts budget and schedule ahead of safety
In 2012 former TransCanada engineer Evan Vokes came forward to the NEB as a whistleblower. Vokes came forward after his concerns were dismissed by upper management at TransCanada, he was concerned that budget and time-line often came ahead of pipeline construction quality. In February 2014 the NEB confirmed that many of the complaints were valid. He had even written a letter to TransCanada CEO Russ Girling about his concerns surrounding what he considered substandard welding and inspection practices; his letter was ignored.
It was also discovered that TransCanada was not planning on using state of the art leak detection technology on the proposed Keystone-XL pipeline and was instead opting to use traditional methods which include fly-overs, surveys and software based methods.
#2 Have world-leading contingency planning and emergency response programs;
TransCanada has misled us about emergency response and safety before
Despite touting it’s world leading planning and emergency response programs the Keystone Pipeline spilled 12 times in it’s first year the largest being a 79,494 litre spill at a pump station in North Dakota in 2011.
#3 Proponents and governments consult local communities and fulfill their duty to consult with Aboriginal communities;
Communities have the right to say NO
The Energy East Pipeline would cross 180 different aboriginal communities. As a result TransCanada needs to consult with all of these communities, and receive their consent to go ahead on the project. Since the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Tsilhqot’in vs. British Columbia the precedent has been set that First Nations have title over their land. This means that First Nations have the final say, and have the right to say no to pipeline projects like Energy East cutting through their territory once title has been granted.
#4 Take into account the contribution to greenhouse gas emissions;
Continued tar sands expansion means game over for the planet
Even though the premiers of Ontario and Quebec backed away from including emissions caused by the expansion of the tar sands which would be directly related to the Energy East Pipeline, building the pipeline and meeting Canada’s 2020 GHG emission targets would be impossible. As of the end of 2014 Canada’s projected GHG emissions for 2020 are 727 megatonnes which is far above the 611 megatonnes which was promised 5 years ago in Copenhagen. The Pembina Institute estimates that the proposed Energy East pipeline will produce between 30 and 32 million tonnes of GHG emissions annually.
#5 Provide demonstrable economic benefits and opportunities to the people of Ontario and Québec, in particular in the areas of job creation over both the short and long term;
Energy East could be a job killer not creator
A report commissioned by TransCanada found that in the long term the pipeline would only give 25 people jobs at TransCanada’s Offices in Calgary once it is constructed. This is on top of the fact that the pipeline crosses 900 waterways which are used for drinking water, sustaining agriculture, fishing and recreation. A spill could kill far more jobs than the pipeline would create.
#6 Ensure that economic and environmental risks and responsibilities, including remediation, should be borne exclusively by the pipeline companies in the event of a leak or spill on ground or water, and provide financial assurance demonstrating their capability to respond to leaks and spills;
It is nearly impossible to fully clean up tar sands oil
TransCanada still hasn’t guaranteed that they would bare the full financial costs of a pipeline spill and cleanup. As we saw in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2010 it is impossible to fully clean up a tar sands oil spill. Over 3 years later there is still tar sands oil at the bottom of the Kalamazoo River which is still being dredged up as part of the EPA clean up.
#7 Interests of natural gas consumers must be taken into account.
We won’t be able to adequately heat our homes during the coldest months of the year
Even Enbridge who currently uses the existing portions of proposed the Energy East pipeline doesn’t think that the pipeline is fair to natural gas consumers. Currently the existing gas pipeline is used at capacity between North Bay and Ottawa, due to the proposed conversion of the pipeline to carry tar sands crude oil a new natural gas pipeline will have to be built. Enbridge’s current natural gas customers would bare the financial burden of building the new smaller natural gas pipeline from North Bay to Ottawa, and since it will be smaller it will have less capacity on cold winter days.
If you agree with us and don’t want to see tar sands oil shipped through the City of Ottawa sign our petition.