Red Head – Every moment I am home I feel compelled to look out my front windows. Why? To make sure there is no pipeline built.
You see I live literally across from where Energy East would propose to end in Saint John, NB.
It would ship 1.1 million barrels of diluted bitumen from Hardisty, Alberta to across from my house. A currently beautifully forested area filled with animals and streams that run from the mountain behind me thru fields that run to the Bay of Fundy.
If I look to the right, I can see a beautiful view of the Bay of Fundy, fishing boats, Patridge Island where Irish immigrants landed during the potato famine and gorgeous sunsets. It is paradise here.
Unfortunately, it’s where they want to put an export terminal for the tar sands. In total, 281 tankers would leave here; about a ship and a half a day.
TransCanada plans on putting 22 tanks for 13.6 million litres of bitumen in the field and woods across from my home and in my neighbour’s backyard. Some homes will have the facilities less than 300 metres from them. Some tanks would be 6 stories tall.
Just down the road is the Canaport LNG plant. In an incident their flare killed 7,500 birds some endangered species, they got charged $750, 000 only for this. This is the same company that have partnered with TransCanada.
Why have I decided to fight? In May 2014 I attended an open house for TransCanada. I had questions on environmental issues. Someone with TransCanada pointed me to the head environmental guy. Instead of answering my questions he reached to a nearby table and then handed me a pamphlet on jobs. To his surprise, I got angry and said I am not for his pipeline.
When I got home, I decided to find my own answers. For many months, I watched, and read on everything from TransCanada, tar sands, climate change and politics. Meanwhile, TransCanada was refusing to have town hall style meetings. They are only meeting with landowners one-on-one in their homes or in their own set-up in their open houses, where they control the set up and the message. They do not want open discussion with others to happen. The same thing happened in the USA with the Keystone XL pipeline.
So now everyday I watch a pipeline divide my country on arguments that are meant to distract from real issues. My neighbors who have lived here some their entire lives shrivel with fear. We have fishermen here, their livelihoods depends on the Bay of Fundy in the exact same water near their proposed end terminal. This is where they fish for lobster, a creature which is bottom-dwelling. A spill would wipe out these creatures like it did when oil spilled in the Kalamazoo River. Five years later, and Kalamazoo is still not fully cleaned up and the cost is 5 billion dollars.
In the case of a spill, what about the fisherman who use their livelihoods to feed their families and pay their bills? We’d lose that money coming into our economy forever and also the money from the fishing industry. How would tourism be affected by a spill? Tourism is a $250 million industry here in New Brunswick. Many tourists come here to see the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. Only 450 such whales are known to exist today.
What’s this talk about Montreal rejecting Energy East? It is actually 82 Montreal area municipalities. The Energy East pipeline would traverse over 820 waterways in Quebec.
Don’t forget that the former Conservative government cut environmental regulations with Bills c-38 and c-45 in 2012. None of those regulation repeals have been restored.
Then there is all the talk of refining our own Canadian oil and how Energy East is a nation-building project, thanks to former Premier Frank McKenna. However, this is no nation building project, except that many people across the country are united in opposition to it.
Finally, we hear sides of the rail vs. pipeline arguments. It is another meaningless false debate. It’s not one or the other they want to get oil to the market in whatever way possible. In fact, NB is looking at adding another 220 rail cars a day to Belledune in northern New Brunswick. Three First Nations reserves in Quebec are suing New Brunswick over lack of consultation.
The real argument is how do we get off fossil fuels like the rest of the world has to. We know that 80% of fossil fuels need to stay in the ground to avoid a 2 degrees Celsius increase above pre-industrial temperatures.
Dear politicians, why arent’ we talking about that? After all, it is 2016 now right? Let’s get on with it!
Lynana Astephen is a Red Head resident and an organizer with the Red Head and Anthony’s Cove Preservation Association.