The Energy East: Our Risk – Their Reward six community tour launches tonight in Kenora with a public forum. The event, part of a series of forums and meetings along the Energy East pipeline route coordinated by the Council of Canadians alongside local partners, features Council of Canadians Chairperson Maude Barlow and Eriel Deranger of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (AFCN). Tonight’s event will also feature Adam Scott of Environmental Defence, Teika Newton of Transition Initiative Kenora and Peter Kirby of Save the ELA.
Transporting 1.1 million barrels of oil per day, Energy East would be the largest oil pipeline in North America. The tour, happening during the Ontario Energy Board Consultations, brings to light a number of serious risks with this project.
“In Ontario, TransCanada wants to use a converted 40-year-old natural gas pipeline to transport diluted bitumen from the tar sands over some of the provinces most important waterways,” says Barlow. “TransCanada claims diluted bitumen clean up is the same as regular oil but we know from the billion dollar disaster in Kalamazoo that this is not true. We urgently need the Experimental Lakes Area to study the effects of diluted bitumen spills in our freshwater.”
Filling Energy East would help spur a 40% increase in tar sands production. Downstream First Nations are calling for an end to further expansion.
“ACFN members are witnessing the rapid and wide-scale industrialization of their traditional lands for rapid tar sands production – lands that have sustained our communities, culture and distinctive ways of life for countless generations,” says Deranger. “Current production is large enough that 80 per cent of the traditional territories of the ACFN and Mikisew Cree First Nation are rendered inaccessible for periods of the year due to tar sands development. Not only do the tar sands put my communities’ culture and traditional way of life at risk for future generations, diluted bitumen shipped near Kenora puts your land and water at risk.”
Producing the crude needed to fill Energy East would generate the climate pollution equivalent to that of all the cars in Ontario, every year.
“Energy East is a project that would contribute to utterly undermining the efforts made by our province and the citizens of Ontario when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases and mitigating the destabilizing effects of climate change,” says Newton of Transition Initiative Kenora. “For a region like Northwestern Ontario that is so highly dependent on the well being of its fresh water for everything from tourism – the current mainstay of our economy – to public health, to access to food in the form of fish and other wildlife, to drinking water, Transition Initiative Kenora believes this project is simply too big a risk, for too little gain for us to be able to support it.”
The public event in Kenora will be taking place today at Knox United Church, 116 Fifth Ave S, 7:00p.m.