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Wynne and Couillard backtracking on the climate test for the Energy East pipeline

Energy East elephant

Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec premier Philippe Couillard are both signalling that their climate test for the proposed Energy East pipeline could be very weak. On November 24, they stated that when evaluating the 1.1 million barrels per day pipeline they would, “Take into account the contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.”

But just a few days later, Wynne is now saying, “No, we’re not talking about upstream emissions” and Couillard has commented, “Whatever the future of the TransCanada project, the extraction will take place. So it doesn’t add anything to the debate to look at [upstream emissions]. What we really want to see is the sum of greenhouse gases over the Quebec section of the project.”

“Upstream emissions” refers to the greenhouse gas emissions created by the increased tar sands production fuelled, in this instance, by the 1.1 million barrels per day Energy East pipeline. It has been estimated that the export pipeline would allow for a 40 per cent expansion of the tar sands that would produce at least 32 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year, the equivalent to 7 million new cars on the road.

The Globe and Mail reports, “Ms. Wynne said Wednesday what she will only consider are the relatively small emissions from any work that has to be done on the line in Ontario – such as exhaust fumes from construction vehicles.”

Council of Canadians energy and climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue has responded by saying, “Wynne’s refusal to consider how the pipeline will spur more climate pollution in the tar sands is more than disappointing, it is wrong. The tar sands are reaching the limits of pipeline capacity. At 1.1 million barrels per day, the pipeline will absolutely unlock increased production in Canada’s fastest growing source of climate pollution.”

This is particularly disappointing as the United Nations climate talks are now underway in Lima, Peru. Last December, the Harper government submitted its climate report to the UN that admitted that Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise sharply. Without climate action, the federal government estimates that emissions from Canada’s oil and gas sector will increase by 48 per cent between 2005 and 2030.

We are asking our supporters in Ontario to tell the premier that approving Energy East would “wipe out all the good work we have done in Ontario to lower greenhouse gas emissions and threaten our most important drinking water sources.” To sign that action alert – No Energy East pipeline through Ontario – please click here.

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