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North Bay ramps up the fight against Energy East pipeline

The people of North Bay are ramping up the fight against the Energy East pipeline project. Last week, Maude Barlow and I spent three amazing days there working with friends and allies to stop this dangerous and unneeded tar sands export pipeline.  We were hosted by Stop Energy East-North Bay, a vibrant and very active local group that co-authored a report with us, When Oil Meets Water: How the Energy East pipeline threatens North Bay watersheds which we released at a press conference first thing Monday morning. The report received broad coverage in regional media and drew a weak response from Energy East’s proponent TransCanada Pipelines Inc. 

Immediately after the press conference we started a whirlwind of meetings with Mayors and councillors, local labour groups, Source Water Protection committees, Conservation Authorities, cottage associations and more.  We even travelled an hour north to the town of Temagami which is at the centre of one of the most beautiful and diverse parts of the Canadian Shield and on the pipeline route. There, we met with more than fifty people including representatives of the local Temagami First Nation and members of Temagami City Council including Mayor Lorie Hunter.

The highlight of the trip was the public event Tuesday night where 300 people came out to express their opposition to the Energy East pipeline. The forum was co-hosted by the Council of Canadians and Stop Energy East North Bay and co-sponsored by Friends of Temagami, Nipissing Environmental Watch, Northwatch and Transition Town North Bay. The event opened with two moving songs from Anishinabe elder Lorraine Whiteduck-Liberty and her fabulous “back-up singers”!  

I gave an overview of the findings of our new report– that Energy East has a 15% chance per year of rupturing, that TransCanada cannot remotely detect spills of up to 2.6 million litres per day, that a spill into North Bay watersheds could cost over one billion dollars and that TransCanada is completely underestimating the difficulty of containing and cleaning up an oil spill in winter conditions.

 Former tar sands worker and North Bay resident Steve Courtney of Theia GeoAnalytics showed two amazing videos simulating a flyover of the pipeline route and showing how an oil spill would spread in the various waterways threatened by the proposed pipeline.

And then Maude wrapped it all up by dispelling the myths about the Energy East pipeline and rooting the discussion within the context of our dwindling fresh water resources and the imperative to get out of fossil fuels to avoid catastrophic climate change.  She received a standing ovation when she said “The national unity project we need is protecting our water”

Resistance is building in North Bay and in communities all along the Energy East pipeline route. We are organizing together to protect our water and our children’s future from this wrong-headed and risky project.

For more information: www.stopenergyeast.ca