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Winnipeg chapter opposes Energy East pipeline at First Mennonite Church gathering

The Council of Canadians Winnipeg chapter spoke against the Energy East tar sands pipeline at a church gathering last night.

The Facebook promotion by the First Mennonite Church of Winnipeg had noted, “The St. Ignatius Environment Committee has invited us to learn more about the Energy East Pipeline and consider circulating a petition that would help hold the government and the oil industry more accountable. Doug Tingey is a lawyer and member of the Winnipeg chapter of the Council of Canadians. Tingey has represented clients to the National Energy Board with respect to the Energy East Pipeline.”

The Energy East pipeline has been proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada PipeLines Ltd, the same company behind the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline recently approved by US President Donald Trump.

Energy East would carry 1.1 million barrels of bitumen a day the 4,400 kilometre distance from northern Alberta to an export terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick, facilitate a 40 per cent expansion of the tar sands, and generate an estimated 30-32 megatonnes of upstream carbon pollution each year.

It has been estimated that 978,000 barrels could be exported outside of Canada every day via an Irving oil terminal in Saint John. As a result, the number of tankers in the Bay of Fundy would increase to 281 from 115 a year.

The pipeline would cross 2,900 waterways. In addition, more than 5 million people rely on drinking water sources within the spill reach of the pipeline, including 676,000 people in Manitoba.

It would pass through or near at least 155 First Nation communities. The pipeline is opposed by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Treaty 3 Grand Chief Warren White (representing more than twenty-five Anishinaabe First Nations whose traditional territory is situated in northwestern Ontario), the Wolastoq Grand Council (which asserts Indigenous Title over the lands and waters within the entire Saint John River watershed), the Iroquois Caucus, Mohawk Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge ‘Otsi’ Simon, the Assembly of First Nations Quebec and Labrador, and numerous other First Nations along the pipeline route.

City councils are also beginning to reject the pipeline, including Gatineau, Quebec and Sackville, New Brunswick.

And CTV has reported, “[Former Conservative prime minister Brian] Mulroney says that growing trade between Canada and China depends on Trudeau approving the Energy East Pipeline. Mulroney [says] Trudeau ‘could have a nation building exercise that would then allow him to service the Chinese and others more beneficially for Canada’, if Energy East and other pipelines are built.”

The National Energy Board hearings into the Energy East pipeline were stopped in August 2016 following the scandal of two review panel commissioners privately having met with former Quebec premier Jean Charest, a paid consultant with TransCanada.

In January 2017, the NEB officially appointed three new members to a panel to review the pipeline proposal.

In February 2017, TransCanada told a Senate committee that it has long-term contracts from shippers and that it will proceed with its application despite forecasts of surplus pipeline capacity for the next ten years and questions over whether it can finance both the $5.4 billion Keystone XL and $15.7 billion Energy East pipelines.

It has not been made public when the NEB hearings – in which The Council of Canadians is registered as an intervenor – will resume.

While it had been expected that the National Energy Board would make its recommendation on Energy East by March 2018, with the federal government making its decision by September 2018, and the pipeline operational by 2020, it’s unclear now what that timeline might be. There is speculation that the NEB review would not be complete until early 2020 meaning 2022 could be the new target date for the pipeline to be operational.

The Council of Canadians formally announced its campaign against the Energy East pipeline in August 2013.