Energy East: A Bad Deal for Ontario

Originally published by Patrick DeRochie at Environmental Defence on December 19, 2016

What considerations should be taken into account by the Ontario government regarding the proposed Energy East pipeline? The answer to this question is a long one. But the short answer is: Ontario should listen to the advice of its own energy regulator’s assessment of the pipeline: Energy East is a bad deal for Ontario.

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Photo credit: Ontario Energy Board

Ontario is undertaking a review of its Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP), studying everything from electricity supply and demand, to fuel pricing, to microgrids, to conservation and efficiency. As part of the LTEP review, it also asked for feedback on the position it should take on Energy East. Last week, Environmental Defence, along with our allies from Équiterre, Ontario Rivers Alliance and Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County, took this opportunity to remind the provincial government of the pipeline’s environmental and economic risks to Ontario.

In fairness, we just told the provincial government what its own energy regulator, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), already told it in a comprehensive report from 2015: the risks of Energy East outweigh the potential benefits for Ontario, which have been exaggerated by TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline proposal.

TransCanada’s application does not meet the seven pipeline principles adopted by the province in 2014. Energy East could have adverse impacts on the natural environment and pipeline safety in Ontario. And the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Energy East would be inconsistent with Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan and the provincial and federal government’s commitments under the Paris climate agreement.

Our LTEP submission includes the following key points about the approach Ontario should take to Energy East:

  • Environmental Impacts: TransCanada’s pipeline application doesn’t show that Energy East won’t cause adverse environmental effects in Ontario. The application lacks adequate emergency response plans, presents no evidence that the proposed route through Ontario is appropriate for an oil pipeline, and fails to consider reroutes to avoid oil spills or other risks;
  • Pipeline Safety: Energy East does not satisfy the pipeline safety principles set out by the Ontario government, due to inadequate in-line inspection tools and an absence of details regarding valve placement, leak detection and emergency response;
  • Economic Impact: The economic analyses commissioned by TransCanada were limited and suggestive. The pipeline’s economic benefits to Ontario are small and likely inflated. Energy East would result in only modest economic benefits for Ontario that do not outweigh the environmental risks.
  • Climate Change: An analysis by the Pembina Institute concluded that Energy East would result in upstream GHG emissions of between 30 and 32 megatonnes annually, equivalent to the emissions from all of the cars on Ontario roads in 2014.
  • Ontario’s Climate Leadership: Ontario should be commended for its climate leadership, including the province’s phase-out of coal plants, its Green Energy and Economy Act, its cap-and-trade program and Climate Change Action Plan, and its ambitious GHG reduction targets. But Ontario must explain how Energy East aligns with its vision for a low-carbon economy. It doesn’t make sense for Ontario to support high-carbon pipeline projects while simultaneously committing to meet ambitious provincial and national climate targets. The expansion of the tar sands that Energy East would permit means that other provinces and sectors, including Ontario and its industries, would need to go even further in their own emissions reductions in order to meet Canada’s targets. This is neither fair nor economical for Ontario.

Energy East is not in the best interest of Ontarians. The provincial government should publically highlight the environmental and economic risks of Energy East to Ontario and call on the National Energy Board and the federal government to reject the proposed pipeline.

Contact Patrick if you’d like to read our full submission to the LTEP discussion paper.

Valley Residents Offer Climate Change Solutions

There was a great energy and discussion at the Town Hall consultation on climate change for 46 residents of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke on August 16 at the Royal Canadian Legion in Eganville, Ontario. The event, hosted by three community-based organizations: Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County, Bonnechere River Watershed Project, and Ottawa River Institute, raised awareness of climate change issues and provided an opportunity for local residents to propose actions that can be taken by governments, businesses and individuals to address climate change.

Over 150 ideas were suggested as the 46 participants – including about a half dozen local elected municipal officials – engaged in round-table discussions on the following topics and questions:

  • Mitigation: What are the solutions to reducing greenhouse gases that you would like to see governments, businesses, and communities implement?
  • Economy and Jobs: What are your ideas to support the economy and create good jobs while reducing emissions?
  • Innovation and Clean Tech: What are some ideas to promote innovation and new technologies in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
  • Adaptation: What can Canada do to better adapt to impacts of climate change on the environment and support affected communities, including Indigenous communities?
  • Putting a Price on Carbon

Key Messages

Several key messages emerged from the town hall meeting. Some of these are incremental changes to the status quo, while others would require dramatic and transformative change.  Key messages included:

  • Radically increase the sense of urgency about Climate Change;
  • Real change will require challenging basic assumptions (e.g., consumer society, endless growth, urban sprawl, need for population control, intellectual property rights vs. open source as barriers to innovation, etc.);
  • To speed the transition to a low carbon economy, governments should provide incentives for clean technologies and remove subsidies for dirty technologies (e.g., remove subsidies for fossil fuels);
  • Any climate change plan needs to address the unique needs of rural Canadians (e.g., lack of public transit, sparse population, poor access to some services, etc.);
  • More use of trains for passengers and freight should be encouraged;
  • Canada should emphasize and promote local solutions (e.g., local food and energy production) with local control;
  • Forestry and agriculture are promising climate change solutions; We need to promote the use of wood and other renewable feedstocks (e.g., hemp) for energy and materials;
  • Rural Canada can create opportunities by retaining/enhancing natural cover as carbon sinks;
  • Canada needs to keep some fossil fuels in the ground and stop building long lived fossil fuel infrastructure.

A complete list of all the proposed actions and comments by town hall meeting attendees is available here. These ideas were submitted to Environment and Climate Change Canada via http://letstalkclimateaction.ca/ideas on behalf of the 46 attendees, including about a half dozen local elected municipal officials.

Local Residents Talk Climate Change Solutions at RNP Town Hall #CANClimateAction

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Photo: Heather Park-Wheeler

There was great energy and discussion at the Town Hall consultation on climate change for residents of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke on Tuesday evening August 16 at the Royal Canadian Legion in Eganville. The event, hosted by three community-based organizations: Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County, Bonnechere River Watershed Project and Ottawa River Institute, raised awareness of climate change issues and provided an opportunity for residents to get involved in proposing actions that can be taken by governments, businesses and individuals to address climate change.

Many ideas were brought forward as the 46 participants (including about a half dozen local elected municipal officials) engaged in round-table discussions on the following topics:

  • What are the solutions to reducing greenhouse gases that you would like to see governments, businesses, and communities implement?
  • What are your ideas to support the economy and create good jobs while reducing emissions?
  • What are some ideas to promote innovation and new technologies in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
  • What can Canada do to better adapt to impacts of climate change on the environment and support affected communities, including Indigenous communities?
  • Putting a Price on Carbon.
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Photo: Heather Park-Wheeler

Some of the proposed solutions included:

  • Addressing the unique needs of rural Canadians;
  • Providing incentives for clean technologies and removing subsidies for dirty technologies;
  • Keeping some fossil fuels in the ground and stop building long lived fossil fuel infrastructure;
  • Promoting local solutions (e.g., local food and energy production) with local control;
  • Promoting the use of wood for energy and materials; and
  • Retaining/enhancing natural cover as carbon sinks.

Local climate activist Duncan Noble said that “we need to react to climate change with the same urgency as we did to WWII” and that the organizers were “very pleased with the turn out and the energy and enthusiasm of participants for climate change solutions”. According to Noble, it will take “many more conversations like the ones we had tonight to build and maintain the political will necessary to respond to climate change effectively”. Bonnechere Valley councillor Meredith Jamieson chaired the meeting and remarked that she was “inspired to see so many people engaged in making a difference”.

All of the proposed ideas are being compiled by the host organizations into a detailed report that will be submitted to the federal government as a contribution from RNP to inform Canada’s strategy on climate change. It will also be publically available on-line at http://letstalkclimateaction.ca/ideas. Residents can also submit ideas on how to address climate change by visiting this interactive website.

Thanks to all of those who organized and participated in this event for RNP. Together, we can make a real difference.

More photos from the event can be seen here, courtesy of Heather Park-Wheeler.

Local media covered the event here.

Climate Consultation for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke

The federal government is asking for public input on Canada’s national climate change plan. We are co-hosting a climate change town hall consultation for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke on Tuesday, August 16 at the Eganville Legion. It’s up to us to show up and speak up in support of an ambitious national climate strategy.

Date and Time: Tuesday, August 16 at 7:00pm

Location: Royal Canadian Legion, 57 Veterans Way, Eganville, ON  K0J 1T0

This location is wheelchair accessible and refreshments will be provided.

Please RSVP so we know how many people are coming and can plan accordingly.

You can RSVP for the event on Facebook here.

If you are not on Facebook, you can RSVP for the event here.

More information about the federal government’s climate change consultation process is available here.

During the consultation, attendees will have the opportunity to address the following questions:

What are the solutions to reducing greenhouse gases that you would like to see governments, businesses, and communities implement?

What are your ideas to support the economy and create good jobs while reducing emissions?

What are some ideas to promote innovation and new technologies in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

What can Canada do to better adapt to impacts of climate change on the environment and support affected communities, including Indigenous communities?