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10 Compelling Reasons Why Mount Allison University and Sackville Should Oppose Energy East

On November 5th, the Peace and Friendship Alliance arrived in Sackville to listen to Mount Allison University students on their efforts to have Mount Allison University and the Town of Sackville state their opposition to the proposed Energy East pipeline.  Representatives from all 4 New Brunswick chapters of Council of Canadians were In attendance. 

In the morning we heard from student representatives from DIVEST MTA and Mount Allison University alumni that no longer want their university to hold stocks in oil and gas companies. In the afternoon we held a strategy session with Mount Allison University students that are part of the Anti-Energy East Group.  Several action items were agreed upon to support the initiatives of these two student groups and alumni. 

Based on these discussions, here are 10 compelling reasons for Mount Allison University and the Town of Sackville to make an official announcement in opposition to the proposed Energy East pipeline:

1.  “It is our future too!”.  We must listen to our young people.

We can’t dismiss the voices of our young people and our children any longer.  We have a responsibility as university administrators, as Board of Governors’s members, as municipal politicians, and as parents/grandparents to make decisions that will benefit, not harm, their future. 

And their voices are getting louder and more impatient.  Young people from Mount Allison University, New Brunswick and across Canada, and Indigenous communities are engaged in sit-ins at MP/MLA offices, and are facing arrest in peaceful protests to stop climate change.

(Mount Allison students Naia Noyes-West, Ro Leitner, Will Balser, and Claire Neufeld

at Peace and Friendship Meeting, Sackville, Nov. 5, 2016)

2.  Jobs are too few for this $15.7 Billion project. 

TransCanada’s own job numbers for Energy East are from job projections that it commissioned the Conference Board of Canada to estimate.  During the development and construction of the pipeline, they predicted 9,246 direct jobs over 9 years, of which 3,123 would be created in New Brunswick. During the operation of the pipeline, they predicted 891 direct jobs for 20 years, of which 132 would be created in New Brunswick.


An earlier Deloitte study commissioned by TransCanada projected 7,728 “annual direct full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs” during the construction period of the project, and 1,087 annual direct FTE jobs during operations for 40 years. 

New Brunswick was provided the same rosy job projections for shale gas fracking with a Deloitte study commissioned by Southwestern Energy (SWN).  Deloitte estimated there would be 21 direct jobs per well.  But the reality was much different.  The actual job numbers were found to be 4 direct jobs per well in the 6 U.S. jurisdictions where they actually had this industry for several years. 

(Energy East Economic Backgrounder, TransCanada, December 2015)

3.  Jobs will be many times greater and long term with a clean economy.

Our communities and young people deserve good, long-term local jobs with a clean, local economy rather than face continued chronic underemployment in our oil and gas economy.  Both Peak Oil and Peak Demand mean that our fossil fuel-based economy will no longer recover to past heights.  We need a rapid transition away from fossil fuels and into clean energy, building efficiency, local food production, and community forestry – all important contributors to building strong, diverse, local economies. 


If Canada transitions to 100% renewables by 2050, co-founder Mark Jacobson’s The Solutions Project at Stanford University calculates the number of 40-year jobs created would be over 290,000 jobs in construction and over 460,000 jobs in operation jobs.


Just in the early years of focusing on clean energy, Massachusetts has already produced over 2X the number of jobs in clean energy compared with number of jobs produced in shale gas fracking in the neighbouring state of Pennsylvania.  The 2015 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report finds,  “There are now 98,895 clean energy workers and 6,439 clean energy companies in Massachusetts – with clean energy employing residents of every county and jobs growing across every region of the Commonwealth.”

(from Stanford University’s The Solutions Project – http://thesolutionsproject.org/resource/139-country-100-infographics/)

(Infographic from 2015 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report, page 7)

(Postcard produced by Council of Canadians – Fredericton chapter)

4.  Sackville and the surrounding Tantramar area are among the most vulnerable regions to the impacts of climate change in New Brunswick.

24%  of  the   Town of Sackville  is  in  the  fresh water floodplain and the risk due to salt water flooding is “imminent” (see the Town of Sackville’s Powerpoint Presentation to the Legislative Select Committee on Climate Change, August 31, 2016). Quoting from the Mount Allison University website, “Situated at the upper end of the Bay of Fundy, straddling the modern-day border between the Provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the Tantramar Marshes area form one of the largest tidal salt marshes (20,230 hectares) on the Atlantic coast of North America.”

  (images from Town of Sackville’s Powerpoint Presentation to the Legislative Select Committee on Climate Change, August 31, 2016)

5.  2016-2017 is the ‘Year of Indigenous Knowing’ at Mount Allison University

Actions by Mount Allison University and the Town of Sackville will be more powerful than words alone.  What better way to celebrate the ‘Year of Indigenous Knowing’ than to support the Indigenous people in New Brunswick and across North America who are saying NO to extreme oil and gas pipelines. 

A cornerstone of the 94 call-to-actions of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, is the adoption and implementation by Canada of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).  The “free, prior, and informed consent” is a part of UNDRIP and there is a responsibility to uphold these inherent, fundamental rights of the Mi’kmaq, the Wolastoqewiyik (Maliseet), and the Passamaquoddy who live in New Brunswick. All of us here in New Brunswick live on unceded territory since the Peace and Friendship Treaties never ceded land to the government.  Our failure to implement UNDRIP has brought the warning of 20 Standing Rocks in Canada.   

6.  Alumni want to give money to their University’s investment fund to better the lives of students, not help endanger their lives.

Alumni are listening to the students.  From the Divest MTA website, “the Mount Allison Students’ Union (MASU) has voted unanimously in support of encouraging Mount Allison University to divest its endowment fund from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies.”

7.  A tar sands bitumen spill into the Bay of Fundy could destroy the livelihood of tourism jobs and 5000 fishery jobs. Sackville and Mount Allison University are right at the tip of the Bay of Fundy, and only 22 kilometres from the globally-significant Protected Natural Area at Johnson’s Mills Shorebird Reserve. 

A large spill of tar sands bitumen would devastate the marine ecosystem of the Bay of Fundy, including the extensive mudflats where these shorebirds feed on the mudshrimps.  The Nature Conservancy website for Johnson’s Mill states, “At low tide, the expansive mud flats at Johnson’s Mills can stretch more than two kilometres out into Shepody Bay.” The salt marshes, and vast stretches of mudflats of the Bay of Fundy exposed twice a day during low tide, are a critical feeding stopover area along the eastern seaboard of North America for 34 species of fall migrating birds on their way to Central and South America, including hundreds of thousands of sandpipers and plovers, making it one of 6 Canadian sites in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.


The stunning Pixar 6-minute short animation ‘Piper’ will have even more tourists and families flocking to this site to view the funny behaviour of sanderlings.  The Director is Canadian-born Alan Barillaro and he got his inspiration for Piper by watching plovers, sandpipers, and sanderlings along the coast of California.  Audubon does a great behind-the-scenes article on ‘Piper’.



 

8.  The public pressure to end extreme oil and gas is becoming too great to ignore.

The worldwide explosion of support for Standing Rock #NODAPL shows us that people of all ages and countries are coming together to stand together with Indigenous People in order to put an end to the construction of new pipelines for extreme fossil fuels such as fracked shale gas, fracked shale oil, and tar sands bitumen.  Here in Canada, our remaining conventional fossil fuel reserves of oil and gas must be used domestically (instead of the majority being exported) so that Atlantic Canada can achieve energy independence and rapidly transition to a clean economy by 2050.  Gordon Laxer has written extensively about this and his After The Sands book is a must-read on this subject. 

The pace of climate change has left us no choice but to transition rapidly off fossil fuels.  Here is a link to powerful testimonies from 6 Young Canadians and 5 U.S. pipeline activists.

9.  All Sackville Councillors and their Mayor are against another extreme fossil fuel – shale gas from fracking. 

The last municipal election was held last Spring 2016 and all candidates for Sackville Town Council publicly declared that they were against shale gas development.  Now that these people are the Mayor and Town Council, one would expect that they would also oppose a tar sands bitumen pipeline proposed for Bay of Fundy tidewater, and a marine terminal with over 270 supertanker exports per year.

Climate leaders don’t support pipelines.

10.  We need action today.  The ever-increasing pace of climate change and the looming economic crisis can’t be ignored any longer.

Climate change gives us no choice but to act.  The science and economic reports are now too conclusive and authoritative to ignore.  The most recent climate change models show that a business-as-usual approach will lead us into catastrophic climate change within a matter of decades.  And just in the last month, reports concluding that we must leave fossil fuels in the ground have been issued by the United Nations Environment for Development (UNEP), Oil Change International, and Jeff Rubin (former Chief Economist for CIBC).  A great new 2-minute YouTube  by Oil Change International shows how the oil and gas lobby group Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) has been using “bad math for years on the need for new pipelines”. Learn more: http://cappmath.ca/

For more on the Council of Canadians campaign to stop the Energy East pipeline, please click here.


FACEBOOK LINKS:

DIVEST MTA

Sackville No Energy East

Red Head Anthony’s Cove Preservation Association


PEACE and FRIENDSHIP ALLIANCE


COUNCIL OF CANADIANS – Fredericton chapter

COUNCIL OF CANADIANS – Kent County chapter

COUNCIL OF CANADIANS – Moncton chapter


COUNCIL OF CANADIANS – Saint John chapter