'Wall of opposition' to Energy East pipeline boosted by Saint John public forum

Saint John
Photo: Barlow speaks in Saint John last night. Photo by Tori Ball.

Our speaking tour against the proposed Energy East tar sands pipeline was in Saint John, New Brunswick last night. About 200 people turned out to hear Maude Barlow, the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, Andrea Harden-Donahue, energy and climate justice campaigner with the Council of Canadians, Cherri Foytlin, a resident of south Louisiana and author of Spill It! The Truth About the Deep Water Horizon Oil Rig Explosion, and Maria Recchia, the executive director of the Fundy North Fishermen's Association.

CBC reports, "The Council of Canadians held a public meeting Wednesday evening in Saint John to rally opposition to the planned Energy East pipeline. 'I have absolutely no question that we're going to build a wall of opposition just like Northern Gateway and Keystone XL in the United States', said Maude Barlow, the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians."

"The Council of Canadians argues regular people will shoulder the risk of a spill, with most of the benefits being swallowed up by the wealthy. Maria Recchia works with local fishermen and wants to intervene with the National Energy Board. 'What we've seen so far with projects in Saint John Harbour is that the environmental impact assessments have been very poor, and we believe that if we're not involved as much as possible, the impacts of this project on fishermen will not be considered', said the executive director of the Fundy North Fishermen's Association."

Halifax-based Council of Canadians organizer Tori Ball tweeted these comments by Barlow at last night's forum, which included:

  • "This proposal comes on the heels of the Harper government gutting all our environmental protection legislation."
  • "We need to question this whole system. The government let the oil industry make the call to cut the fresh water act."
  • "Bitumen is not your grandfather's oil. It takes a lot of water to get it and poisons a lot of water to refine it."
  • "We need to look towards a better energy future away from extreme energy."
  • "To be blessed to live in a country like Canada and not protect its water is a crime to future generations."
  • "We can and will build a society we are proud to hand to our children. We have to build a movement."

Recchia from the Fundy North Fishermen's Associated noted:

  • "The question we have to ask is, 'Is Energy East the right choice for our community?"
  • "Who knows how far an Energy East oil spill would go in the Bay of Fundy?"
  • "We don't loose fishing gear because we are careless, we loose gear because other people are careless and lack collaboration."
  • "This tar sands oil is more likely to sink and damage our lobster fishery."
  • "I am confident the public wants a viable fishing industry."

And Foytlin said:

  • "I didn't leave my children for any other reason than I love you. I am begging you to make the right decision."
  • "The oil from Energy East isn't for Atlantic Canada, it's not for the poor communities in Houston, it's for them to get rich."
  • "Hotel owners got paid out. People who wait tables go hungry. Not everyone feels the impacts [of an oil spill] equally."
  • "Up to this day we have high mortality of our local marine species. They don't tell you that in their impact assessment."

The public forum was also webcast and can be viewed here.

Prior to the public forum, the speakers were interviewed by CBC TV. That interview can be seen here beginning at the 3:41 mark.

The tour - and the building of the wall of opposition to the Energy East pipeline - continues on November 4 in Fredericton and November 6 in Edmundston. TransCanada has indicated it will submit its formal application to the National Energy Board for the pipeline project today (October 30).

Further reading
Last night public forum in Halifax kicked off a two week tour about why Energy East is all risk and little reward for Atlantic Canada (blog by Andrea Harden-Donahue)
Council launches 5-city Energy East tour in Halifax
Tour warns Bay of Fundy residents of Energy East pipeline tanker traffic threat