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Ontario Energy Board report says Energy East puts water at risk

OEB consultation, January 2015

Council of Canadians energy & climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue speaks at an OEB consultation, January 2015.

On March 30, the Ontario Energy Board posted five reports prepared by technical advisors for their consultation and review of the Energy East pipeline.

Today CBC reports, “A provincial report says the Energy East oil pipeline comes with significant environmental risk and small economic reward for northern Ontario. The report comes out of a year-long review of the project by the Ontario Energy Board.”

One of the reports, titled Assessment of Impacts on the Natural Environment, concludes, “that some aspects of [TransCanada’s] Application are not consistent with the highest available technical standards for environmental protection including: incomplete mapping of surface water intakes; intermittent mapping of potential oil spill trajectories; and lack of consideration of alternative pipeline routes to avoid impacts to surface water resources, endangered species habitats and wetland.”

That report also recommends that Ontario’s energy minister consider calling for the “rerouting the pipeline where the existing route is too close to HSRs [highly sensitive receptors], wetlands or endangered species habitat or justifying why rerouting is not necessary.”

The news article highlights, “The new report recommends options for re-routing the pipeline around drinking water sources, like North Bay’s Trout Lake, should be looked at. …TransCanada spokesman Tim Duboyce said the company is open to route changes, including a change in the Quebec section to avoid a wetland. But he noted that it’s less likely in northern Ontario, where an existing pipeline that is already buried in the ground will be converted to carry crude oil.”

In fact, Duboyce dismissively says, “It becomes a question of common sense and science. Those are the overriding principles that guide that kind of decision.”

The CBC report also notes that the employment and tax revenues generated by the pipeline in Ontario would be minimal. The Ontario Energy Board report will be part of the province’s submission to the National Energy Board hearings on the Energy East pipeline.

The Council of Canadians intervened at the Ontario Energy Board consultations in Kanata and Thunder Bay this past January to raise concerns about the impacts of the pipeline on climate change, waterways, First Nations and local landowners. Allies intervened at the hearings in Kenora, Thunder Bay, Kapuskasing, Timmins, North Bay and Cornwall. In April 2014, we organized public forums in six Ontario communities to raise awareness and build opposition to this pipeline. For more on our campaign against Energy East, please click here.

Further reading
Ontario government sees Energy East as threat to North Bay’s drinking water (March 2015 blog)
Ontario energy minister has “significant concerns” about Energy East pipeline (February 2015 blog)
Energy East: Where Oil Meets Water (August 2014 report)

Photo: Council of Canadians energy & climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue speaks at an OEB consultation, January 2015.