Economists, students, teachers, farmers, unions among Canadians asking to be heard during pipeline review
Toronto, ON – At least 65 per cent of the total number of applicants, as of the deadline last night, to intervene in the National Energy Board’s review of the Energy East pipeline want to talk about climate change. Applicants include prominent climate scientists, economists, farmers, students, teachers, First Nations and hundreds of community members alongside and near the pipeline route.
TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline, what would be North America’s single largest oil pipeline, has galvanized opposition, especially in Eastern Canada in much the same way the Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan pipeline proposals have led to staunch opposition in the West. With Energy East, concern with climate impacts has become a unifying force across Canada.
“I have applied to intervene at the NEB hearing to talk about the impact of the proposed pipeline on greenhouse gas emissions because I think that it’s outrageous that impacts of the pipeline on climate would be deliberately excluded from the assessment process,” said Danny Harvey Ph. D., Professor in the Geography and Planning department at the University of Toronto.
The NEB has refused to consider the climate impacts numerous times, despite over 100,000 messages demanding they include climate in the review. Despite this applicants claim that the NEB’s mandate to consider the environmental impacts of Energy East, the economic impacts and need for the pipeline and to determine whether Energy East is in Canada’s interest requires considering climate change.
“A full accounting of economic costs and benefits must include external costs of production — in particular, the impact on existing economic activity, potential impacts due to spills, and impacts on human populations associated with climate change impacts,” explained Marc Lee, Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, who also applied to intervene in the review.
Landowners and people dependent on the land and water that Energy East could impact also applied, including fisherman on the East Coast and farmers like Katie Ward, President of the National Farmers Union Local 362.
“As farmers in the Ottawa Valley, we’re concerned about the potential impacts of this pipeline, not only if there was a spill that could devastate our crops and animals, but also the long-term impact of focusing Canada’s efforts toward greater use of fossil fuel at the expense of renewable energy,” said Ward. “That’s why we’ve decided to register our opposition with the National Energy Board.”
Dozens of First Nations communities also applied to participate in the review of Energy East, many – like the Wolastoq Grand Council in New Brunswick – raising concerns about the threat that Energy East would pose to water and the risk of spills.
“The proposed route of the Energy East Pipeline will cross our rivers, streams, brooks and lakes at a minimum of 185 times,” said Ron Tremblay, spokesperson for the Wolastoq Grand Council. “Our people depend on those sacred waterways to gather medicines, pick fiddleheads, catch fish, and harvest numerous types of berries, nuts and animals.”
Students all along the pipeline route also applied by the hundreds, including the University of Winnipeg Student Association, the Student Society of McGill University, the Dawson College Green Earth Club and others.
“Students across Canada have been calling for divestment from tar sands companies because we know it’s not an investment if it’s wrecking the planet, and with Energy East we know it’s definitely not an environmental assessment if it doesn’t include climate impacts,” said Bronwen Tucker, a McGill Student and organizer with Coalition ÉCO (Étudiants et étudiantes contre les oléoducs), a network representing over 100,000 students in Quebec opposed to Energy East.
Other applicants to the NEB process include New Brunswick Green Party Leader David Coon, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, municipalities, provincial governments and more.
Cam Fenton is the Canadian Tar Sands Campaigner with 350.org.