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Paddling on Dow’s Lake against the Energy East pipeline

Photo by Julian Taylor-Patterson


Today I took part in a #BreakFree climate action on Dow’s Lake in Ottawa.


Greenpeace Ottawa volunteers organized to have a flotilla of kayaks and canoes on Dow’s Lake to demonstrate opposition to the proposed Energy East pipeline and to call for a 100 per cent renewable energy future. The paddle helped to highlight that Dow’s Lake, the Rideau River, the Rideau Canal, and the Ottawa River would be put at risk if the tar sands pipeline is approved.


Dow’s Lake is a small lake on the Rideau Canal, situated in the middle of Ottawa.


In her report, Energy East: Where Oil Meets Water, Council of Canadians energy and climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue writes, “The Energy East Pipeline would cross the Rideau River just south of Ottawa near Kemptville in the Baxter Conservation Area, which is known for its beaches and hiking trails. The Rideau River is an important inflow to the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The canal flows to the Ottawa River at the Rideau Falls, behind the Prime Minister’s residence. The Rideau Falls are approximately 40 kilometres away from the crossing. A major rupture at this crossing could see oil flow into the canal, through Ottawa, towards the Ottawa River.”


We have also noted, “A spill, like the 2010 Enbridge pipeline rupture in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River that travelled 56 kilometres, would leave a toxic and costly legacy in the Rideau Canal.”


If approved, the 4,500 kilometre pipeline would move 1.1 million barrels of oil per day. It would cross about 2,900 waterways and put at risk the source of drinking water for about 5 million people. The crude production needed to fill the Energy East pipeline would generate an additional 30 to 32 million tonnes of carbon pollution each year — the equivalent of adding more than seven million cars to our roads. It would spur 650,000 to 750,000 barrels per day of additional production from the tar sands. That would mean about a 40 per cent expansion of the tar sands. Nearly all of the 1.1 million barrels a day of crude oil the pipeline would carry would be exported unrefined. Those exports would increase the number of oil tankers in the Bay of Fundy from 115 to 281 a year. Right whales in the Bay of Fundy are already stressed from current levels of tanker traffic and this would worsen that situation.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not said no to the pipeline, despite it being in contradiction to his pledge at the Paris climate summit to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. In December 2014, Trudeau commented, “I hope [TransCanada] will develop a means to reassure and demonstrate that [Energy East] can be done in a responsible fashion.” National Energy Board hearings on the pipeline will begin this August, and the NEB’s recommendation will go to the federal cabinet in March 2018. TransCanada wants to see the pipeline in operation by 2020.


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