Fredericton – A TransCanada manager faced a number of questions from Fredericton and area residents about the potential impacts of the company’s proposed Energy East oil pipeline on the city’s drinking water, the province’s rivers and the climate on Tuesday, March 17.
Kevin Maloney, TransCanada’s Manager of New Build Pipelines, spoke to a crowd of about 100 at an early morning event co-hosted by the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce and the Fredericton North Rotary Club at the Fredericton Convention Centre.
“It’s not a question of will they leak, it’s when will they leak:” Maggie Connell
Expressing concern for one of Fredericton’s aquifers, Maggie Connell, a member of the Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians, asked for the company to provide computer modelling that predicts where toxic chemicals from a spill would go if it were to occur in the Nashwaak watershed.
Maloney noted where the pipeline would cross and replied, “I think it’s highly unlikely that even if a spill occurred, that it would travel 50 kilometres to Fredericton.” Maloney said that he would get back to Connell on her request for a computer model.
The pipeline’s planned route in New Brunswick enters near Edmundston, travels down the province, over waterways 280 times and ends in Saint John. The route passes about 80 kilometres north of Fredericton. The pipeline plans to pump 1.1 million litres of crude bitumen everyday from Alberta to Saint John.
“They do leak. It’s not a question of will they leak, it’s when will they leak,” Connell told a Global reporter following the talk.
Don McDonald of Stanley spoke about his concerns if a spill were to occur in the Nashwaak River, Southwest Miramichi River and a number of brooks and tributaries. Maloney assured McDonald that TransCanada has never had a pipeline spill in a waterway.
McDonald passed out a factsheet on Energy East and the waterways it crosses. His factsheet opened with: “My sons and I have fished the Miramichi and Nashwaak rivers for many years. I am very concerned for the river’s well being so that my grandchildren and their grandchildren can do the same.”
“Maloney neglects to mention that a pipeline of this size would endanger watercourses even if a pipe rupture occurred at a fairly great distance from the watercourse. Since the bitumen is heavy, only some would soak into the ground, and the majority of the spill volume would flow over the ground and could easily reach any nearby watercourse. And imagine if the spill happened on a downward slope that hastened the travel of the bitumen towards a watercourse,” said Mark D’Arcy, the Council of Canadians’ Energy East organizer.
Townhall meetings are “chaotic and counterproductive:” Kevin Maloney
Jonathan Richardson, running in the Fredericton Ward 12 by-election and a fourth year criminology student at St. Thomas University, asked if TransCanada would hold a public meeting for the residents of Fredericton. Maloney replied, “We find townhall meetings to be chaotic and counterproductive.”
The city of Fredericton received a letter from TransCanada on Feb. 11 rejecting their request for a public meeting on the pipeline.
Energy East’s greenhouse gas emissions: equivalent of adding 1.3 billion cars on the road
Carl Duivenvoorden, a local writer, speaker and consultant on climate change, wanted to know how TransCanada is able to reconcile their project with climate change. Besides pointing to low greenhouse gas emissions from pipelines, Maloney said that TransCanada is investing in renewable energy.
Climate change think-tank, Pembina Institute, has reported that the overall greenhouse gas emissions associated with the Energy East pipeline is equivalent to adding 1.3 billion cars on the road.
National Energy Board receives 2,275 applications from the public to participate in the Energy East review
The final day to apply to have a say in the National Energy Board (NEB) review of the Energy East pipeline project was also March 17. At the end of the application process, 2,275 people had filed applications to be heard.
The majority of New Brunswickers applying to the NEB review were opposed to the Energy East project; 119 out of 154 applicants. Only 16 applicants indicated they were fully behind the project. Many New Brunswickers expressed concerns over climate change impacts even though NEB has said that they will not be examining climate change and upstream impacts. Many New Brunswick applicants mentioned concerns for the Bay of Fundy, the endangered Right Whale and inadequate emergency preparedness in their submissions.
While TransCanada maintains that the Energy East pipeline is needed in Canada, 59 scientists, economists, engineers, sociologists, architects and philosophers from ten provinces in Canada are arguing that Canada can shift entirely to renewable sources of electricity by 2035 and eliminate 80 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The academics recommend a national carbon-pricing plan, stronger effort to move electricity produced from low-carbon sources such as hydro dams across provincial borders, an end to fossil fuel subsidies and better regional and municipal planning to ensure investments in energy and transportation infrastructure curtail emissions.
According to the report, “Acting on Climate Change,” the renewable energy transition has already begun with 77 per cent of Canada’s electricity being produced without the burning of fossil fuels.
The Harper government is consulting provinces and territories on greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for the period after 2020 in the lead up to the 22nd Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in December. The international meeting of national leaders aims to reach a new and binding international climate agreement to avoid a 2 degree global average temperature increase.
The Harper Conservatives are opposed to national carbon pricing while the Opposition NDP support a national cap-and-trade system. The Liberals want carbon pricing with national standards and for it to be administered by the provinces and territories. Elizabeth May’s Greens call for Canada to reduce its emissions by 30% below 1990 levels by 2030, and by 85% reduction below 1990 by 2050.
People from coast to coast are organizing to have thousands attend the “Act on Climate March” in Quebec City on April 11. The march will happen in the lead up to a premiers’ meeting that aims to come to an agreement on climate action. Transportation to the march from New Brunswick is being organized by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and the Council of Canadians.
TransCanada hopes to have the Energy East pipeline operating by late 2018.