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Winnipeg chapter says Energy East threatens Winnipeg’s water supply

Winnipeg chapter activist Mary Robinson

Winnipeg chapter activist Mary Robinson

The Council of Canadians Winnipeg chapter and the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition were at City Hall yesterday to highlight that the Energy East pipeline threatens Winnipeg’s water supply.

CBC reports, “The two groups made a joint presentation before the standing policy committee on water, waste, environment and riverbank management, asking the city to order a comprehensive study and hold public consultations on the Energy East project. ‘When Winnipeggers see how close this pipeline goes to the drinking water supply and they understand how diluted bitumen behaves, they will recognize the city must either reject this pipeline or, at the very minimum, call for a reroute away from the aqueduct’, Mary Robinson, chair of the local chapter of the Council of Canadians, said in a news release.”

The news article explains, “TransCanada has proposed a 4,600-kilometre pipeline from Alberta to Quebec and New Brunswick that would transport about 1.1 million barrels of crude daily. The project would repurpose a 40-year-old natural gas pipeline that runs past Shoal Lake at the Manitoba-Ontario border. Shoal Lake is the source of Winnipeg’s drinking water.”

The Winnipeg chapter, again in partnership with the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, has also called on the National Energy Board to include climate impacts in its review of the pipeline. Their May 2015 report found that Energy East threatens the drinking water of more than 60 per cent of Manitoba residents. At that time, Robinson also commented, “Without considering climate change and listening to people’s voices, any review of the pipeline will be incomplete and illegitimate.” On Jan. 27, 2016, the Trudeau government announced pipeline projects would be assessed on their upstream (filling the pipeline) emissions, but dodged a question about whether assessments would include downstream emissions (emissions from burning the oil).

In April 2015, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow spoke against the pipeline to 300 people at a public forum in Winnipeg. In a Winnipeg Free Press op-ed at that time, Barlow and Council of Canadians energy and climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue wrote, “In Manitoba the affected waterways include the Assiniboine River, Red River and in the Shoal Lake watershed. It also crosses two metres below the sole aqueduct for Winnipeg’s drinking water.” Harden-Donahue’s report Energy East: Where Oil Meets Water further details the waterways in Manitoba put at risk by Energy East.

Barlow will be in Winnipeg again on March 16 to speak at a town hall meeting against Energy East. She will be joined by Treaty 1 advocate Chickadee Richard, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation member Daryl Redsky, Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition member Michael Matczuk. The evening will be moderated by Harden-Donahue.

As noted in this overview, along with Winnipeg, the Energy East pipeline would run near the communities of Brandon, Carberry, Falcon Lake, Hamiota, Iles Des Chenes, Portage La Prairie, Rapid City, Ste. Anne, and Spruce. It would also impact the Birdtail Sioux First Nation, the Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation, the Sioux Valley Dakota First Nation, the Dakota Plains First Nation, the Long Plain First Nation and the Dakoto Tipi First Nation.

To read more about yesterday’s presentation at City Hall, please see Winnipeg-based Council of Canadians organizer Brigette DePape’s blog Top 5 concerns about the Energy East Pipeline: Presentation to Winnipeg City Council.