New Brunswick – A Nebraskan rancher is in New Brunswick with a warning about TransCanada’s pipeline promises. Ben Gotschall, who lives in Nebraska along the route of TransCanada’s now rejected Keystone XL pipeline, is headlining a series of free town halls this week, presenting new evidence on the risks to New Brunswickers from the company’s proposed 1.1 million barrel per day Energy East pipeline.
“For years farmers and ranchers like me in Nebraska and other states fought TransCanada to keep the company from expropriating our land to build the Keystone XL pipeline. They called us fearmongers and job-killers. When President Obama denied the permit for the pipeline it was a major victory for all of us working together to protect our land, water, and property rights,” comments Gotschall.
“Now, TransCanada's Keystone 1 pipeline – the ‘safest pipeline ever built’ – has been shut down after multiple leaks and failures due to poor construction and low-quality steel. It seems our instincts were more than just blind fear and emotions. I’ve come to New Brunswick to share my experiences with landowners and citizens here who are dealing with the same company that wants to use the same excuses to justify the risky Energy East pipeline.”
The free town halls hosted by the Council of Canadians will head to Chipman, Belleisle Bay, Hampton and Saint John. The events will underscore the risks presented by the export pipeline and provide important evidence not presented at TransCanada’s open houses and closed-door lobbying meetings.
“Evidence continues to show that Energy East is all risk and little reward,” says Mark D’Arcy, New Brunswick Energy East campaigner with the Council of Canadians and panelist at the town halls. “Based on TransCanada’s own track record, Energy East has a 15 per cent chance of rupturing somewhere along its length every year. Meanwhile its path through New Brunswick puts more than 130,000 residents’ drinking water at risk from an oil spill.”
TransCanada’s leak detection system can’t pick up leaks smaller than 1.5 per cent of the pipeline’s capacity. This means up to 2.62 million litres of oil could spill daily without TransCanada even knowing. In just 48 hours, this could cause the worst oil spill in Canadian history.
Energy East would ship diluted bitumen produced in the tar sands. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences recently released the most comprehensive study of diluted bitumen to date, affirming it substantially differs from other types of oil when spilled near or in water. Diluted bitumen creates a unique and complex spill scenario as bitumen sinks in water after a short period of weathering. The study concluded that special response strategies and tactics are needed to respond to and clean up diluted bitumen spills; however, these have not yet been developed in Canada or the U.S.
“Energy East is a threat to our non-ceded homeland and waterways, our traditional land and cultural connection to our lands, waterways and air,” adds Maliseet elder Alma Brooks, who will also be speaking at the town halls. “The Peace and Friendship Alliance is a new body of Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies working together to better understand and challenge these risks.”
New reports also question TransCanada’s job promises and demonstrate Energy East is primarily an export pipeline that undermines Canada’s ability to address climate change.