PRAIRIES TOUR: Energy East: Our Risk - Their Reward

Maude Barlow  Ben Gotschall  Melissa Daniels  Fawn Wapioke

TransCanada’s Energy East project would convert an existing natural gas pipeline – parts of which are up to 40-years old – to ship 1.1 million barrels of oil every day through the Prairies to export ports in Quebec and New Brunswick.

It would be the single largest tar sands pipeline in North America.

This April, Council of Canadians National Chairperson Maude Barlow will join Ben Gotschall of Bold Nebraska to talk about why TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline is all risk and little reward.

The tour will include a series of meetings, activities and public forums.

Speaker biographies:

Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, on extreme energy and protecting water.

Maude BarlowMaude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. She is a board member of the San Francisco–based International Forum on Globalization and a Councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council.

Maude is the recipient of eleven honorary doctorates as well as many awards, including the 2005 Right Livelihood Award (known as the “Alternative Nobel”), the 2005 Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Fellowship Award, the Citation of Lifetime Achievement at the 2008 Canadian Environment Awards, the 2009 Earth Day Canada Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award, the 2009 Planet in Focus Eco Hero Award, and the 2011 EarthCare Award, the highest international honour of the Sierra Club (U.S.).

Ben Gotschall, rancher and Energy Director with Bold Nebraska, on landowner resistance to Keystone XL.

Ben GotschallBen Gotschall was born and raised on a cattle ranch in the Sandhills of southwest Holt County, Nebraska. Although most of his occupations have been agricultural, he has also published a full-length book of poetry and taught college English. He maintains a connection to the Sandhills by marketing his family's grass-fed beef while also running his own operation, Davey Road Ranch, in Raymond.  Ben operates a dairy cattle business called Holt Creek Jerseys, he is the dairy manager at Branched Oak Farm in Raymond, and he is the Energy Director for Bold Nebraska.

Melissa Daniels, Dene lawyer, ACFN member will join the tour in Regina, Swift Current and Moose Jaw.

Melissa DanielsMelissa Daniels is a member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and a lawyer at Woodward and Company LLP.  Prior to becoming a lawyer, Melissa was a public health nurse in her home community of Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. When she learned about  the detrimental health impacts of  the tar sands industry on her people, the water and the land, Melissa chose to study law. Melissa now represents the ACFN, a community located downstream from the tar sands, and uses legal, Indigenous and treaty rights against Canada, Alberta and the tar sands industry. Melissa is also a graduate student at Harvard University where her research is focused on the application of Dene legal principles in the context of land management and resource conflict. After she completes her masters, Melissa plans on completing her PhD in public health and epidemiology.

Fawn Wapioke, Chief of Iskatewizaagegan (Shoal Lake 39) and member of the Grassroots Indigenous Water Defence. Will join the tour in Winnipeg.

The tour, supported by the Council of Canadians, the National Farmers Union and local partners, will present key information to people living along the pipeline path. This includes information on TransCanada’s questionable pipeline safety record, the risks to waterways and farms of shipping diluted bitumen, what it means for tar sands expansion, and experiences opposing TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline.

Background Information:

People in Saskatchewan and Manitoba are being asked to face serious risks with the Energy East pipeline. These risks are being rejected by people who are mounting opposition to tar sands pipelines in Western Canada and the U.S.

Proposed rewards from the Energy East pipeline are overblown.

  • Up to 1 million barrels of crude per day is expected to be exported, unrefined.
  • TransCanada has a bad track record on job promises. Most of the jobs will be short-term.
  • Energy East won’t deter companies from pursuing dangerous oil by rail.

The risks are serious.

  • The vast majority of the tar sands crude that would be pumped through the Energy East pipeline is for export. We get all the risk, they get all the reward.
  • Diluted bitumen produced in the tar sands is unlike conventional oil ­– a spill would have devastating environmental impacts that are nearly impossible to clean up as seen with the Enbridge pipeline spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
  • TransCanada wants to convert an existing natural gas pipe in the Prairies that includes segments wrapped in the same polyethylene tape that disbanded and caused the disastrous diluted bitumen spill in the Kalamazoo River.
  • The pipeline would result in more than 650,000 barrels per day of additional tar sands production, which means even more exposure to toxic pollution for downstream communities.
  • The increased production would also generate up to 32 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year – more than the entire province of Manitoba.
  • Investing in pipelines locks us into further fossil fuel expansion and detracts from needed investments in a green energy future.

Find out more about Energy East »

Photos: Maude Barlow (photo by Wolfgang Schmidt); Fawn Wapioke (photo Robert vanWaarden