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.

oeb-ee-pipeline-map-through-ontario

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.

Why the Energy East Pipeline Should Not Proceed

Originally published by The Council of Canadians on November 7, 2016.

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The Bonnechere River in Renfrew (Source: Wikipedia)

The Council of Canadians Mississippi Mills chapter will be co-sponsoring a public forum on the Energy East pipeline featuring Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and climate justice campaigner Daniel Cayley-Daoust.

In an email to our supporters in the Renfrew area, Ontario-Quebec organizer Mark Calzavara provides the details:

When: 7:00 p.m. on November 17
Where: Renfrew O’Brien Theatre, 334 Raglan St. South, Renfrew
Tickets are $15.00 and are available in advance at the O’Brien Theatre in Renfrew.

Calzavara adds, “This event is part of the Need To Know Speakers Series.”

Following this event, Need to Know will also be holding a public forum on December 1 with David Sword (the Ontario advisor for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers) and Jeff Gaulin (the vice-president of communications for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers) titled, Pipelines – Their need and the value of getting Canada’s energy to market”.

Renfrew is located about 95 kilometres west of Ottawa. With a population of just over 8,200 people it is the third largest town in Renfrew County after Petawawa and Pembroke.

Ottawa Community News reports, “More than 2,000 kilometres worth of pipeline would run through Ontario, more than any other province. In the Ottawa area, the pipeline would run through Pembroke and Renfrew, cut south east through Stittsville, cross the Rideau River south of Kars and north of Kemptville and then follow the St. Lawrence River east. It would then cut north and cross the Ottawa River near Lachute, Que.”

The Ontario Rivers Alliance notes that the pipeline would intersect with approximately 1,174 streams, 873 lakes and 469 wetland areas in Ontario.

One of the waterways it would intersect is the Bonnechere River, which flows through Renfrew.

An oil spill into the Bonnechere River, the Petawawa River or the Madawaska River would have devastating consequences for the river and ecosystem, on residents, and the local economy. The Madawaska River flows from Source Lake in Algonquin Park and joins with the Ottawa River in Arnprior. The pipeline crosses the Madawaska River, which is used by the residents of Arnprior as their source for drinking water. Arnprior is situated about 30 kilometres east of Renfrew.

Barlow will be highlighting the argument she makes in her new book Boiling Point: Government Neglect, Corporate Abuse, and Canada’s Water Crisis.

She writes, The Energy East pipeline and the proposed western pipelines pose a clear and present threat to waterways and watersheds across the country. It would be irresponsible to expose thousands of lakes and rivers to spills of one of the dirtiest energy sources on earth. The Trudeau government must have the courage to say no to Energy East, which would also dramatically increase production in the tar sands, prolonging its productive life for decades and tying Canada into a fossil fuel energy future.”

In Boiling Point, Barlow also calls on the federal government to reinstate and improve the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Fisheries Act, and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Local groups opposing the Energy East pipeline along with the Council of Canadians Mississippi Mills chapter include the Bonnechere River Watershed Project and Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County.

For more on our campaign to stop the Energy East pipeline, please click here.

Pushing Back Against Pipeline Proponents

The following open letter was sent to Prime Minister Trudeau and Cabinet today by dozens of Canadian organizations, including Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County.

27 April 2016

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Cabinet members,

The economies and workforces of Alberta and Canada have been hit hard in recent months. There has been considerable pressure on the federal Liberal Cabinet to respond, including Premier Notley’s recent address in Kananaskis and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s public comments urging Cabinet members to ensure major pipeline projects are approved.

This most recent push for new tar sands, or oil sands, export pipelines exhibits a number of problematic arguments that deserve response. Adding new pipelines will not solve economic woes caused by instability in world oil markets and a world that is rapidly – and necessarily – transitioning away from fossil fuels in order to safeguard our climate for future generations.

We must proceed with a fair review of pipeline projects that includes all scientific evidence, welcomes public participation and puts in place a climate test that ensures Canada doesn’t build infrastructure that makes the 1.5 degree limit of global temperature rise impossible. The review must include true consultations with Indigenous communities and respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Oil to tidewater won’t fix tar sands troubles

As argued by Ross Belot, former senior manager with one of Canada’s largest energy companies, a new pipeline won’t solve Alberta’s woes because “…the problem a pipeline to tidewater was intended to address doesn’t exist anymore.”

The abundance of cheap fracked oil in the U.S. and the global oil crash have contributed to narrowing the price differential between North American crude (whose benchmark is West Texas Intermediate, “WTI”) and global crude (whose benchmark is Brent) to almost zero. As a result, the benefits Canadian tar sands producers once sought by trying to access higher returns on global markets have vanished. The discount that now exists for Western Canadian Select (WCS) relative to WTI is now due to inherent quality differences that make WCS more costly to refine. Building new pipelines to get tar sands crude to tidewater and foreign markets cannot overcome the quality discount.

New pipelines incompatible with our fair share towards a 1.5 degree world

The Kinder Morgan, Northern Gateway, Line 3 and Energy East pipelines would lock Alberta and Canada into producing and shipping heavy crude for many years to come, well beyond the 2050 deadline in the Paris climate agreement set as a goal for weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. Building more pipelines conflicts with the expertise of more than 100 scientists who have publicly called for no further expansion in the tar sands.

With the realities of climate change intensifying, more people are demanding action and world leaders will need to respond. In an increasingly de-carbonized world, particularly carbon intensive forms of heavy oil, including tar sands crude, will become economic risks.

Uniting for the protection of our climate and water

These pipeline projects present significant risks not only to our shared climate, but to critical waterways along their paths. The proposed tar sands export pipelines would see diluted bitumen transported over, under and through critical waterways including the drinking water sources for millions of Canadians.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recently released the most comprehensive study of diluted bitumen to date, affirming it substantially differs from other types of oil when spilled near or in water. Diluted bitumen creates a unique and complex spill scenario as bitumen sinks in water after a short period of weathering. The study concluded that special response strategies and tactics are needed to respond and cleanup diluted bitumen spills; however, these have not yet been fully developed in Canada or the U.S.

Respecting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

It has been suggested that Canadians must unite around a nation-building pipeline, and Prime Minister Trudeau must lead us to this, even before a fair review of these projects is complete. Doing so would require agreeing to force a pipeline through the lands of Indigenous communities that have raised clear concerns about the duty to consult, as well as the impacts these pipelines will have on their lands. Forcing a pipeline approval will be on a collision course with respect for the UN Declaration on the RIghts of Indigenous Peoples; be it Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan, Line 3 or Energy East.

Indicating support for one of these pipeline projects as requested would require ignoring the voices of major cities along the pipeline routes, countless communities wanting a fair review of these projects and stands to run in conflict with ongoing provincial reviews of certain projects.

There are solutions. Opposing new tar sands export pipelines isn’t anti-Albertan

Clearly workers and their families, even whole communities, are hurting in Alberta. No one wants this. But more of the same will not fix the problem.

A new poll asking Albertans how they would like revenue raised by a proposed carbon tax spent indicates that, by more than a two-to-one margin, people favour spending it on green energy projects, transit and energy efficiencies. 144,000 Albertan jobs can be created with government policies that encourage and invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency and public transportation.

Let’s unite around a better future, one we can be proud to hand to our children and grandchildren’s children.

Sincerely,

Brandon/Westman chapter, Council of Canadians
Calgary chapter, Council of Canadians
Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada
ClimateFast
Climate Justice Saskatoon
Comox Valley chapter, Council of Canadians
Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal
Council of Canadians
Ecology Action Centre
Ecology Ottawa
Fredericton chapter, Council of Canadians
Georgia Strait Alliance
Greenpeace Canada
Green 13 Toronto
Kent County chapter, Council of Canadians
Leadnow
Les Citoyens au Courant
London chapter, Council of Canadians
Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition
Mid-Island chapter, Council of Canadians
Montreal chapter, Council of Canadians
Northwatch
Ottawa chapter, Council of Canadians
Oil Change International
Peace NB
People for Peace, London, Ontario
Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County
Peterborough and Kawarthas chapter, Council of Canadians
Transition Initiative Kenora
Quill Plains chapter, Council of Canadians
Quinte chapter, Council of Canadians
Quinte Water Watchers
Regina chapter, Council of Canadians
Saint John chapter, Council of Canadians
Saskatoon chapter, Council of Canadians
Sierra Club, BC
South Shore chapter, Council of Canadians
Sustainable North Grenville
Stand (formerly ForestEthics)
Tanker Free BC
Team Ecohealth
Thunder Bay chapter, Council of Canadians
Vancouver / Burnaby chapter, Council of Canadians
WaterWealth Project
West Coast Environmental Law Association
Wilderness Committee
350.org
350Vancouver

Small but Mighty – and Determined to Make a Point

Submitted by Judy Sauve, PARC Member

When PARC members learned that TransCanada was a “gold sponsor” of the 2015 World Freestyle Kayak Championship held in Beachburg, we decided it was important to go there to inform the public. Time was short for organizing but a group came together, gathered up previously used pickets, made some new ones and set up a carpool heading to Beachburg. We discussed en route how difficult it was to do this at an international event because we, like everyone else, instinctively want Canada to make a good impression. But we agreed that our reason for being there outweighed our discomfort.

The event was being held on the Ottawa River, specifically in the whitewater wonders which the media had described as the best natural location in the world for this sport. It is a priceless asset to the region, not only for recreation but it also creates employment. TransCanada’s sponsorship was considered by PARC to be grossly inappropriate because that company proposes to ship oil through the Energy East pipeline which would cross at least 24 waterways draining into the Ottawa River. A spill could potentially destroy this celebrated asset.

Members protested with pickets at the entrance to the event on closing day, September 5. It was encouraging to see many thumbs up as cars entered the grounds, although many others drove by intentionally ignoring the pickets. We didn’t interfere with the flow of traffic getting into the grounds but if windows were down, people were offered pamphlets.

We were told initially that we could stay, provided we remained on the strip between the ditch and the road. We set up and began displaying our pickets. After a while, the chief organizer of the kayak championship came by to talk to us. He clearly wanted us to leave, pointing out that this was just a competition involving amateur athletes. Tricia Darley, our spokesperson and co-founder of PARC, spoke with him and explained that our objection was not with the event but with the TransCanada sponsorship. He said they had donated $5,000 and if they had offered $10,000 he would have accepted it. He also suggested we could donate to the cause! He then gave up and drove away, not happy that we were staying but not interfering with our actions.

We stayed for a couple of hours, feeling by that time that most people had entered the grounds and that we had sent our message. During that time, Tricia completed two media interviews, one with myFM radio and another with COGECO cable. myFM immediately posted a picture and brief story on several websites and as yet, we don’t know when/if the video and interview will be carried on COGECO.

Conclusion? A successful day in getting the word out!

Inappropriate TransCanada Sponsorship for Ottawa Valley Canoeing Event Raises Questions

Originally posted by Environmental Defence on 3 September, 2015

TORONTO, ON – Pipeline company TransCanada is apparently seeking social license for its planned massive oil pipeline along the Ottawa River by sponsoring a major canoe competition. If built, the Energy East tar sands pipeline would create the risk of a major oil spill in the Ottawa valley, threatening the very recreational activities TransCanada is now sponsoring.

TransCanada is a gold sponsor of the 2015 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships taking place near Beachburg, Ontario this week. TransCanada’s sponsorship comes on the heels of similarly questionable grants in communities close to the proposed pipeline route.

“The timing of TransCanada’s sponsorship raises flags, given that the Energy East application is being reviewed by federal regulators,” Environmental Defence Climate Program Manager Adam Scott said. “TransCanada’s sponsorship looks like an attempt to curry favour with Ottawa valley residents – who would be negatively impacted by Energy East pipeline.”

There is a clear pattern of TransCanada sprinkling money on communities along the Energy East route in the months leading up to regulatory hearings:

  • Last year: money donated to Mattawa Township for a new fire truck, controversially asking them to sign a gag order in exchange.
  • May: Kemptville’s Dandelion Festival sponsorship was returned after musicians protested.
  • August: purchased sports equipment for the township of South Glengarry, near Cornwall.

“The question is, are we being bought by TransCanada? This is the second contribution that TransCanada has made in our area financially,” Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County co-founder Tricia Darley said. “Are they trying to buy our municipalities’ votes to have the Energy East pipeline run through our backyard? If so, it’s unethical.”

Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County is planning to gather on the last day of the competition on Saturday, September 5th, highlighting that the Energy East pipeline proposal puts the river in jeopardy and is incompatible with recreational activities like canoeing that depend on clean and healthy rivers.

The attempts by TransCanada come weeks after a critical Ontario Energy Board report on Energy East that highlighted risks to water and widespread local opposition in communities along the pipeline route.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

About Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County (parcrenfrew.org): PARC is a newly-formed grassroots group of citizens in Renfrew County, Ontario concerned about the impacts of the Energy East pipeline.

We Need You on Saturday to Help Protect the Ottawa River

Saturday is the last day of the 2015 ICF Freestyle Canoe Championships on the Ottawa River, near Beachburg, Ontario.  This event is being sponsored in part by TransCanada, the same company that is pushing for the Energy East tar sands pipeline, which would bring 1.1 million barrels a day of thick tar sands oil across many tributaries of the Ottawa River. TransCanada has a terrible safety record and we at Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County feel it’s inappropriate for TransCanada to sponsor an event that depends on clean and healthy rivers.

We are going to take a stand and hand out information at the competition beginning at 10am on Saturday September 5th.

We need you to come join us – will you come out on Saturday morning and help educate people about the Energy East pipeline?

DATE:  September 5th, 2015

TIME:  10:00 am

MEETING PLACE:  22 Fletcher Road (Whitewater Brewery) This is close to Beachburg and Foresters Falls – Look for the folks with picket signs.

Please RSVP here. If you aren’t sure if you can come but there’s a possibility, let us know anyhow so we can send a reminder to you and let you know if any details change.

The Ottawa River is threatened by this proposal and has no voice of its own – help be the voice of the River and come out on Saturday!

Energy East Pipeline Company Sponsoring World Freestyle Kayaking Event

The company proposing to build the Energy East pipeline is sponsoring the 2015 World Freestyle Kayak Championships, held this year on the Ottawa River between Sunday, August 30th and Saturday, September 5th.

We plan to organize activities to point out that the Energy East pipeline is incompatible with recreational activities like whitewater rafting, canoeing and kayaking that depend on clean and healthy rivers.

According the event’s organizers:

The Ottawa River, upstream of Canada’s Capital, Ottawa, is the country’s top destination for rafting and kayaking. While most of the river has been harnessed for hydro-electric power, there remains the “Rocher-Fendu”, an old French word meaning “split rock”. It’s where the river flows through two billion year old granite bedrock and an island paradise of 175 islands (in high water) creating a whitewater playground.

Check back here soon for details on how you can get involved!