Hands Across the Water - Marching over the Nashwaak River for the Future We Want

Mark D'Arcy
4 years ago

(Photo by Caroline Lubbe-D'Arcy)

At the same time as oil prices continue to sink, people of all ages are speaking up louder and louder for leadership on climate change.  Last Saturday, close to 90 people showed up in Fredericton, New Brunswick to march for the future they want, a future that includes a rapid transition to clean energy and efficiency.

This march was part of the 'Hands Across The Water' events held in June along the proposed Energy East tar sands bitumen pipeline route in New Brunswick. The Fredericton event was organized by the Fredericton chapter of the Council of Canadians. (The final march and picnic on the Bay of Fundy is in Saint John, New Brunswick this Saturday, June 17th.)

Video of the event was posted by Global News and The Left Eye, including an interview with Mark D'Arcy on the secrecy and risks surrounding this type of pipeline.

Leading the march was Ron Tremblay, Grand Chief of the Wolastoq Grand Council, and people from the Wabanaki Men's Society.  Their allies, including a large number of young people from as far away as Sackville and Saint John, followed in solidarity as the procession made it ways to the trail bridge over the Nashwaak River in Fredericton.

  (Photo by Kevin Matthews)

"There are 3 tributaries crossed by the pipeline at the head of the Nashwaak River," says Jean Louis Deveau, Chair of the Council of Canadians - Fredericton chapter.  "A spill into any one of these in the middle of the night could go undetected, spreading quickly down the entire stretch of the Nashwaak River to Fredericton. There is no current technology that allows the tar sands bitumen to be captured by booms, and fully cleaned up from the bottom sediment where it sticks aggressively, as documented in the catastrophic spills in the North Saskatchewan River in 2016 and the Kalamazoo River in 2010."

(Photos by Caroline Lubbe-D'Arcy)

The risks and consequences of a tar sands bitumen spill are simply too great for our watersheds and our homes. More than 380 waterways in New Brunswick would be crossed by the Energy East pipeline.  If you live close to a stream, river, or bay where a bitumen spill would spread (releasing life-threatening toxic gas requiring immediate evacuation), the installation of early-warning air sirens, a 1.6km Emergency Evacuation Zone for all residents, and lowered property resale values would become the new reality for your home, cottage, or farm.

(Photos by Caroline Lubbe-D'Arcy)

New Brunswick and Indigenous communities have been left in the dark about the route and the risks of the Energy East tar sands pipeline project. Since 2014, there have been no public meetings (except one in Edmundston over the pipeline risk to their drinking water), no Provincial Environmental Impact Assessment, no community notices along the pipeline route, and no readable maps.

Since 2015, both the City of Fredericton and the Council of Canadians - Fredericton chapter have asked TransCanada to hold a public meeting for Fredericton residents and conduct a spill modelling study of a tar sands bitumen pipeline spill into the Nashwaak River. We are still waiting two (2) years later.

(Photos by Kevin Matthews)

"It's our future too", says Tina Oh, a recent recipient of the Starfish 'Canada's Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25'.  "Canada will be unable to meet our greenhouse gas climate targets for 2030 if we build these tar sands pipelines. Young people, your children, don’t want runaway climate change. We don't want survival. We deserve more than that. We want our future to include a clean & just transition for workers & communities."

Tina Oh and friends from Mount Allison University have started a social media campaign to show support for these anti-Energy East events this month.  They are asking people to post a photo of yourself or with friends with a sheet of paper(s) saying 'the future I want includes'…." #HandsAcrossTheWater

(Tina Oh and Shannon Power.  Photo by Tina Oh)

We are in the midst of an energy revolution with the price of wind and solar now cheaper than fossil fuels, yet our New Brunswick and Canadian governments continue to lobby for tar sands infrastructure. Now these politicians are faced with the drop in global oil prices that will make the energy-intensive extraction of tar sands bitumen even less profitable than it already is.

(Light Sweet Crude Oil Prices - July 2012-June 2017, Globe and Mail, chart retrieved June 9, 2017)

Roger McKnight, chief petroleum analyst at En-pro International, predicted on Business News Network that "crude is sitting at about $45, $46 a barrel now, probably goes down to $40 with the collapse of OPEC.  So I can only see in late summer, early fall, prices lower than what they are today, significantly." And Gene. McGillian, research manager at Tradition Energy, told the Wall Street Journal that "Unless OPEC wants to do something else, the idea of $50 or $55 oil is basically not realistic.”

Now is the time to transition aggressively to renewables. Stanford University's Dr. Mark Jacobsen says Canada can transition to 100% renewables by 2050 and employ hundreds of thousands of Canadians with 40-year jobs. Christine Lins, executive secretary of REN21, says “the renewables train has already left the station and those who ignore renewables’ central role in climate mitigation risk being left behind.

(The Solutions Project, Dr. Mark Jacobson, Stanford University.  Retrieved at http://thesolutionsproject.org/why-clean-energy/)

The final Hands Across The Water event is next Saturday, June 17th in Red Head (Saint John). Starting at 1:00pm, the 2nd 'March to the End of the Line' starts at intersection of Red Head Road and Hewitt Road, the parade takes ~ 30 minutes, and arrives at Anthony's Cove Road for a picnic on the shore of the Bay of Fundy. This family event ends at 4:00pm.  This event is organized by Red Head Anthony's Cove Preservation Association.