TAKE ACTION: Liberal MPs – federal pipeline reviews need real change

Since elected, the Liberals have been walking a fine line, trying to appease communities, environmentalists and First Nations that projects will get a fair review. Simultaneously they are assuring certain Premiers, industry and pundits that they will get a pipeline to tidewater (and when did we start referring to the ocean as tidewater anyway?), something Harper failed to do (because this is worth cheerleading about, really?).

These increasingly contradictory statements were pointed out recently in this press release from a number of environmental groups challenging tar sands pipeline projects. The myths propping up the need for another pipeline to tidewater were challenged in this open letter signed by over 60 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

Add your voice: Federal pipeline reviews need real change

Natural Resources Minister Carr and Environment and Climate Change Minister McKenna announced interim measures towards a new process for reviewing pipelines and conducting environmental assessments this past January. Since then, few details have been made available about how these interim measures, or principles are to be applied to projects under review.  

If the Trudeau government wants to regain public trust, the new process must include an effective climate test, respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and apply to Energy East.

We’ve launched a new action alert, in just a few easy steps you can tweet, call or email your Liberal MP with key demands for the Energy East pipeline review.

Step 1: Enter your postal code

Step 2: Send your MP an email using sample letter (content copied below). Please add your own comments!

Step 3: Use the phone and twitter information for your MP provided to further reach out to them with these key messages:

Getting the climate test right
 
The new review process must consider upstream and downstream climate pollution and ensure projects comply with Canada’s role in limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
 
Respecting free, prior and informed consent
 
First Nation Chiefs in Quebec and Labrador, Manitoba and B.C. are not satisfied with the proposed changes. The federal government must fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including free prior and informed consent. 
 
Energy East should not fall under interim measures
 
The National Energy Board review of the Energy East pipeline should be under the new improved process, not interim measures. The new review must allow for greater public participation and access to funding, cross-examination and evidence-based science on diluted bitumen spills.

 

Sample letter to your Liberal MP:

The federal pipeline review process is broken. Natural Resources Minister Carr and Environment and Climate Change Minister McKenna admitted as much by announcing interim measures towards a new process for reviewing pipelines and conducting environmental assessments.

I urge you to take action on these key areas:

Getting the climate test right

Agreeing to assess the climate impacts of pipelines, also referred to as a "climate test," responds to a key demand that many organizations, scientists and more than 100,000 Canadians have made. It is critical that this test is effective.[1] It must include upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions and comply with Canada’s role in limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as supported by the Trudeau government at the UN climate negotiations in Paris. Just to meet the 2 degrees Celsius target 75 per cent of all of Canada's oil reserves and 85 per cent of the tar sands can't be burned.[2] Filling Energy East would facilitate an approximate 40 per cent increase in tar sands production.

Respecting free, prior and informed consent

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, collectively representing more than 200 Indigenous communities - many of which are along the pipeline routes of Energy East, Kinder Morgan and Line 3 - are not satisfied with the proposed environmental assessment and pipeline review changes.[3] The Trudeau government has made it clear that improving relationships with Indigenous communities is a priority. This means respecting when First Nations say "no" to pipeline or energy projects on their lands. It means fully implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including ensuring free, prior and informed consent.

Energy East should not fall under interim measures

While TransCanada and the oil industry are pressuring for Energy East to proceed, it does not make sense for the project to be considered under interim measures instead of the forthcoming improved pipeline and environmental review process. The National Energy Board (NEB) has yet to issue a Hearing Order for Energy East and intervenors have not been confirmed. I urge you to take action and ensure the existing process is put on hold. TransCanada can retain and resubmit their application under the new and improved process[4].

While the interim measures include an additional process for consulting affected communities, it is unlikely this will address the fundamental problem created by the restrictive rules brought in by the Harper government for participating in NEB pipeline reviews. Will the additional process include funding for participants to gather their evidence as NEB reviews do? Will it allow all people concerned about the project the opportunity to participate or stay with the restrictive interpretation of who can be an intervor imposed by the Harper government? Further, will the NEB’s review of Energy East allow for cross-examination, which was denied in the recent Kinder Morgan pipeline process? It is unlikely the three additional Board members appointed under the interim measures will address the fundamental problems with the NEB being stacked with recent Harper appointees and industry insiders.

Fixing pipeline reviews and environmental assessments

In addition to these actions, much more is needed to fully address the very serious damage the Harper government did to environmental legislation. Protections must be put back on the 99 per cent of lakes and rivers that the Harper government removed from the Navigable Waters Protection Act and protections must also be put back into the Fisheries Act.

I sincerely hope you will ensure there is a truly evidence-based, accessible and fair pipeline review for Energy East and a strengthened environmental assessment process.

I look forward to your response.

Sources:

[1] http://www.climatetest.org provides some important guiding principles for a climate test.

[2] http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v517/n7533/full/nature14016.html.

[3] http://www.wireservice.ca/index.php?module=News&func=display&sid=18160.

[4] http://www.ecojustice.ca/liberals-interim-pipeline-measures-fall-short/