Energy East Pipelines, Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of TransCanada Oil Pipelines (Canada), has applied to build the Energy East Pipeline, a project that will use aging natural gas pipelines along most of its route to move explosive and toxic diluted bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to refining facilities on Canada’s east coast.
The plan is fraught with risks to human health and the natural environment, but the National Energy Board, the federal regulatory body charged with assessing the suitability of this project, seems determined to turn a blind eye to the most serious ones.
The elephant in the room that the NEB is most anxious to ignore is the climate change that will be unleashed by the continued development of the Alberta oils sands. Opponents say development of the tar sands, a northern Alberta mega project that will strip-mine an area the size of Nova Scotia, could create enough carbon to push the world to the edge of uncontrolled climate change. Without pipelines, oil sands development will shrivel, and with it, the potential for further environmental damage.
In Winnipeg, a citizens’ coalition has challenged the National Energy Board to “consider the full scope of the proposed project’s environmental and human impacts, including upstream and downstream effects.”
This is a video I recorded at its December 8, 2014 news conference at the University of Winnipeg. Below is the text of the coalition’s open letter to the NEB.
An Open Letter to the National Energy Board on TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline
Dear Mr. Watson,
We, the undersigned, are writing to urge the National Energy Board to amend its review of TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline. We believe that the review process must consider the full scope of the proposed project’s environmental and human impacts, including upstream and downstream effects. Any regulatory review should include not only the impact of the pipeline itself, but also the cumulative impacts of producing, refining, and burning the oil that would flow through it, if the project were approved.
If the NEB continues to refuse to assess upstream and downstream impacts you are leaving essential questions unanswered:
- What are the global climate impacts of burning the oil this pipeline carries?
- Understanding that this project would enable tar sands expansion, what consequences would Energy East have on the world’s ability to keep global average temperatures below a 2 degree Celsius temperature rise?
- What would be the economic and health effects of increased tar sands production on communities, including First Nations communities, near the tar sands and along the pipeline?
- What are the projected economic costs of the national and global climate impacts associated with any project which increases tar sand production? Who would be most likely to bear these costs?
What kinds of climate adaptation plans would be required based on the climate impacts of this proposed project? Who would develop them? Who would pay for them, and how?
Without a full and transparent accounting of the global climate impacts and associated economic and health costs of this project, we cannot in good conscience consider the National Energy Board to be acting in the best interest of Canadian families. Without including these critical questions, how can we believe the NEB to be undertaking a legitimate review of the proposal?
It is in your power to add these areas of concern to the “list of issues” for consideration. If it is currently outside the scope of the regulatory powers of the NEB to address these questions, we urge you to exercise exemplary moral leadership and refuse to review this pipeline and petition Parliament to grant you the legal authority to do so.
For a resilient and stable future,
No Energy East Manitoba – Energy Justice Coalition
Idle No More Winnipeg
The University of Winnipeg Students Association
The Council of Canadians – Winnipeg Chapter
Winnipeg Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement
Kairos Canada (Cambrian-Agassiz Region)