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Mohawks of Kanesatake oppose Energy East crossing the Ottawa River

The Mohawks of Kanesatake have said an oil spill around the Lake of Two Mountains would be disastrous for drinking water. This area is about 25 kilometres downstream from where the pipeline would cross the Ottawa River at Pointe-Fortune.


The Mohawks of Kanesatake have urged the National Energy Board (NEB) to rule that TransCanada’s recently submitted application for its proposed 1.1 million barrel per day Energy East pipeline is incomplete given the application does not provide details on how the pipeline would cross the Ottawa River through Mohawk Territory about 125 kilometres east of Ottawa.


The Montreal Gazette reports, “The Kanesatake Mohawks are challenging the Energy East pipeline application, claiming it’s incomplete because it doesn’t address potential environmental risks the structure would pose as it crosses the Ottawa River. …TransCanada, the company behind Energy East, filed its 38,000-page application to the NEB on May 18. But the document contains no technical information about how or where it would cross the Ottawa River, substituting that section of the application with a blank page titled ‘Placeholder’.”


The article adds, “The Mohawks’ legal letter, obtained by the Montreal Gazette, affirms the First Nation’s right to fish and hunt along the river and claims that a rupture or spill from the pipeline would be ‘catastrophic’ to their way of life.” That letter says TransCanada has not provided “any technical information with respect to how the Energy East Pipeline would cross the Ottawa River through Mohawk Territory”.

The news report also highlights, “A 2014 study commissioned by TransCanada deemed the Ottawa River crossing a ‘high risk’ proposition. The study, conducted by pipeline consulting firm Entec, concluded that directional drilling required to tunnel the structure under the river would be extremely challenging.” On that point, the National Observer recently reported, “TransCanada has known for about two years that its initial plan to install Energy East through the Ottawa River was flawed, based on an environmental report prepared by a consulting firm [Entec]…. This was submitted in 2014 as part of the company’s original application for the project, but the NEB has deleted this report from its website along with other ‘outdated’ documents in response to a request from the company that was sent on May 6, 2016.”


A December 2014 blog by Ontario-Quebec organizer Mark Calzavara notes that Entec concluded that crossing the Ottawa River is “technically infeasible”.


TransCanada has said that they will conduct seismic tests and collect other survey information before adding it to their application. The Mohawks oppose this testing in their waters. And on March 10 Le Devoir reported (in French) that the Parti Quebecois and Quebec Solidaire are opposed to “the granting of a certificate of authorization for carrying out seismic surveys in the Ottawa River” by the government of Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard. It is believed that TransCanada wants to conduct this seismic testing between September and November of this year.


The National Energy Board is currently reviewing TransCanada’s application to determine if it is complete. If it is, it sets into motion this timeline:
Early June 2016 – “issuance of list of participants” (those will be accepted as intervenors in this process)
August-December 2016 – “panel sessions in communities along pipeline route” (these are the “public hearings that are expected to take place”, the Mohawks will not participate in this process as they do not recognize it as a legitimate process)
March 2018 – “NEB Report to Governor in Council” (meaning the NEB makes its final report with conditions for approval to the federal Cabinet)
June 2018 – the expected timing of the Cabinet’s decision (remembering that the government has stated it wants to get natural resources to tidewater)
2020 – the timing that TransCanada says the pipeline could be in-service


The Mohawks of Kanesatake have previously stated that TransCanada must abide by Mohawk Law and that they will not let the pipeline pass through Mohawk lands and waters. We support that assertion.


In December 2014, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow was in Kanesatake to express her support for the Declaration by the Kanien’kehà:ka Kanehsatà:ke Territory. The declaration states, “We the Kanien’kehà:ka people of Kanehsatà:ke … assert our authority and jurisdiction upon our un-ceded traditional. Resource extraction and their accompanying pipeline by companies like TransCanada, Enbridge, Gazoduc and condo development by GDB Construction violate the land rights of the Kanehsatà:ke Mohawks and threaten the health of the environment.”


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