There will be a public forum held tonight in Thunder Bay as part of the Energy East: Our Risk – Their Reward six community tour. 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 forum will also feature Adam Scott of Environmental Defence and Jason MacLean from Lakehead University Faculty of Law.
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.
“Almost all of the oil is expected to be exported, with benefits flowing to the oil industry,” says Barlow. “In Ontario, TransCanada will attempt to use a converted 40-year-old natural gas pipeline to carry tar sands oil, including diluted bitumen, over some of the provinces most important waterways such as Nipigon River which flows into Lake Superior.”
Diluted bitumen, unlike conventional oil, has proven to sink when spilled in water, causing serious harm and making full clean up near impossible.
Building Energy East will not reduce tanker traffic in rail communities like Thunder Bay,” says Adam Scott of Environmental Defence. “Industry has been clear there is enough oil to fill pipelines and expanding oil by rail. Industry is gunning for both.”
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 Thunder Bay 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 represents a profound threat, not only to the culture and legal rights of indigenous peoples in Canada, but to the very idea of Canada as a constitutional democracy. Our federal government is little more than a crony-capitalist petro-state captured completely by the oil and gas industry. That's why it's up to ordinary Canadians to take economic and environmental governance into our own hands. And that's why the Council of Canadians Thunder Bay Chapter joined a lawsuit challenging the government's unconstitutional amendments to the National Energy Board Act making it impracticable for ordinary Canadians to participate in the National Energy Board's "public" hearings on proposed energy projects like Energy East. Public interest litigation of this kind is democratic participation by other means.”