The construction of the Energy East pipeline through Ottawa would pose a serious threat to the health of Ottawa’s environment. Transporting over a hundred million litres of crude oil through our city every day risks a toxic spill into the Rideau River. It would also facilitate the reckless expansion of Alberta’s tar sands, accelerating climate change. City Council must evaluate the risks posed by the pipeline, and take all necessary actions to stop it should they find those risks unacceptable.
The company TransCanada plans to convert a 55-year old natural gas pipeline to carry up to 1.1 million barrels (130 million litres) a day of crude oil from the Alberta tar sands through Ottawa. The pipeline travels for many kilometres along the Ottawa River and crosses over the Rideau and Mississippi rivers, both of which flow into the Ottawa. The Ottawa River is the source of our drinking water.
A spill would be devastating to the environment and be extremely costly to clean up. It could potentially contaminate groundwater and drinking water for Ottawa residents. The Energy East pipeline would also facilitate expansion of the tar sands that is single-handedly undoing the progress Canada has made to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions.
The Energy East pipeline would enter the city’s boundaries near Pakenham, continue southeast, passing very close to Stittsville, where a major pumping station would be located. It would then continue southeast, crossing Route 416, and eventually leave the city’s boundaries when it passes over the Rideau River and into Kemptville.
Nearly all major pipelines have leaked at some point. In Alberta alone, there are over 700 spills every year, and the number of reported pipeline spills has been rising. The recent disaster in Lac-Mégantic highlighted the risk of shipping oil near or through neighbourhoods and sensitive ecosystems.
While oil companies claim pipelines are safer than railcars, the Energy East pipeline may result in even more toxic chemicals being transported by train, because it would require shipping vast quantities of highly volatile hydrocarbons to Alberta. These “diluents” would be needed to make the heavy bitumen liquid enough to flow through the pipeline.
Energy East would be the biggest tar sands pipeline in North America. It would allow the Alberta tar sands to increase production by nearly 50 per cent – the equivalent of adding 7 million cars to Canada’s roads. Such expansion would effectively undo the reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions achieved by shutting down Ontario’s coal plants.
Ask the Candidates
The Energy East pipeline is a municipal issue. Ecology Ottawa would like all candidates to strongly oppose the project, and, if elected, to ensure the city thoroughly evaluates the risks and speaks out at federal review panels. Ask your candidate about the pipeline.
As part of a general survey ahead of the October municipal elections, Ecology Ottawa asked all candidates for mayor and city council to answer three questions regarding their position on the Energy East pipeline proposal:
- Do you think the City of Ottawa should conduct a thorough and independent assessment of the risks and costs that the proposed Energy East pipeline poses to the health of Ottawa’s communities and water?
- Would you oppose the Energy East Pipeline if it was demonstrated that it threatened the health of Ottawa’s water, climate and communities?
- Should the City of Ottawa intervene in the National Energy Board review of the proposed Energy East pipeline in order to ensure that the interests of the people of Ottawa are well represented?
Their responses will be posted on this website in October.