OTTAWA, Ontario–(ENEWSPF)–May 20 – Opposition to TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline – which would be North America’s largest oil pipeline, transporting crude from Alberta east through Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes – is mounting steadily across eastern Canada, even before the company has filed its official project application.
“It’s not even an official proposal yet, but TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline is facing growing opposition as communities, local politicians, First Nations and residents across Canada are voicing their concerns and taking steps to stop the pipeline,” said Adam Scott, climate and energy program manager at Environmental Defence.
Over 40,000 concerned Canadians have signed petitions opposing the pipeline plan. And that number is growing every day.
“Like Keystone XL and Northern Gateway, Energy East is turning into a major fight, and it would be foolish to think this pipeline won’t face serious challenges,” said Andrea Harden-Donahue, energy and climate justice campaigner with the Council of Canadians.
First Nationsfrom across Canada recently met in Winnipeg to discuss how they can work together to stop the Energy East pipeline, which would pass through or near the territories of 155 indigenous communities.
“It will be the constitutional might of First Nations’ treaty and inherent rights that will stop this project,” said Clayton Thomas-Muller,co-director of the Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign of the Polaris Institute. “First Nations are not anti-development, we simply should not have to choose between a livelihood guaranteed under Treaty, Aboriginal Law and section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, and the ambitions of the Harper government’s Economic Action Plan.”
In Quebec, more than a dozen resolutions, including by several communities, have been filed against the pipeline. In Cacouna, more than 400 people protested the construction of a port for shipping oil from Alberta’s tar sands andthe related seismic surveys by TransCanada in the endangered beluga habitat in the St. Lawrence. In less than two weeks, more than 10,000 people asked the federal government to stop TransCanada’s work in Cacouna. Laval University has refused to allow the pipeline to cross its land, while recent town halls meetings and information sessions in Quebec, along the pipeline route, were packed wall to wall. A march started a few weeks ago along the 700-kilometre pipeline route in Quebec to raise awareness of the risks of Energy East and to empower local citizen groups along the way. “Coule pas chez nous!” a broad mobilization campaign driven by citizen committees, was launch on May 10.
“Quebecers should not have to assume the risks associated with this project, which only serves the interests of oil companies. The Quebec government needs to conduct its own environmental assessment, because clean drinking water, a stable climate and beluga whale calving grounds are too important to be left in the hands of the oil-obsessed Harper government,” said Patrick Bonin, Greenpeace Canada climate and energy campaigner.
Meanwhile, in the Maritimes, at least 3000 fishermen fish in the Bay of Fundy and many worry their livelihoods will be negatively impacted by increased tanker traffic and any oil spills that occur. In Halifax, hundreds of youth gathered a few weeks ago to discuss an alternative energy future for Atlantic Canada that would not include Energy East. TransCanada’s open houses drew more than 1500 people from across New Brunswick, demonstrating significant concern in the project.
“The Energy East pipeline would put thousands of fisheries jobs at risk in Atlantic Canada, not to mention tourism jobs, a huge sacrifice for 50 jobs at a new export terminal,” said Matthew Abbott of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.
In Ontario, the provincial government made the unprecedented move of calling for province-wide consultations, including a review of climate impacts from Energy East.The Ontario Energy Board consultations filled community centres, with many people raising concerns about spills and climate impacts. Over 1300 people also took part in public forums hosted by the Council of Canadians and local partners about the risks of the pipeline. In North Bay, city council unanimously passed a resolution for its mayor to speak at the OEB hearings and to apply for intervener status at the National Energy Board. The concern there, as in many other communities like Thunder Bay, is the pipeline’s threat to drinking water. In Ottawa, grassroots pressure pushed a local Member of Provincial Parliament to take a stand against the project.
“Ottawa is proudly joining the numerous communities rejecting the Energy East pipeline,” said Ben Powless of Ecology Ottawa. “We’re standing up to protect our rivers and waters from toxic tar sands oil, standing up to stop catastrophic climate change that this pipeline would facilitate, and standing up for renewable energy and green jobs.”
Founded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is Canada’s leading social action organization, mobilizing a network of 60 chapters across the country.