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Town hall highlights risks of Energy East for Winnipeg, Shoal Lake and beyond

Winnipeg – Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians and Daryl Redsky of Shoal Lake 40 are headlining a follow-up town hall today presenting new evidence on the serious risks TransCanada’s controversial 1.1-million-barrel-per-day Energy East pipeline. The event takes place at 7 p.m. CDT tonight at the Fort Garry Hotel (222 Broadway, Winnipeg).

“Evidence continues to show that Energy East is all risk and little reward,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “New reports are affirming the unacceptable risks of diluted bitumen spills to waterways, questioning TransCanada’s job promises, and demonstrating this is primarily an export pipeline that undermines Canada’s ability to address climate change.”

“Water gives us life, our job is to protect this life-giving gift,” says Daryl Redsky, consultation officer with Shoal Lake 40. “Energy East presents a very real threat to the Shoal Lake watershed.”

Filling the Energy East pipeline could generate up to 32 million tonnes of carbon pollution, more than the entire province of Manitoba produces in one year. Energy East alone threatens to exceed Canada’s 2 degree Celsius carbon budget in about 19 years, let alone the more necessary and ambitious 1.5 degree Celsius target Canada supported in Paris.

“We need to take climate change seriously. For that reason alone the Energy East pipeline can’t be approved,” says Michael Matczuk, speaking on behalf of the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition. “Even if Winnipeg and Manitoba aren’t yet prepared to address the climate crisis adequately, they must at once recognize their obligation and exercise their legal right to protect Winnipeg’s drinking water from the pipeline.”

The pipeline could not be in a more dangerous place for Winnipeg’s drinking water.

The pipeline crosses the Shoal Lake watershed, presenting an oil spill risk in the traditional territory of Iskatewizaagegan (Shoal Lake 39) and Shoal Lake 40. It is within spill reach of the 100-year-old concrete aqueduct supplying Winnipeg with Shoal Lake water for approximately 100 kilometres. The old natural gas pipeline proposed for conversion to oil crosses two metres below the aqueduct.

There is a very serious risk of contamination to the Winnipeg Deacon reservoir from a large-scale spill or small undetected leaks in the boggy marsh area around the aqueduct. TransCanada’s leak detection system can’t pick up leaks smaller than 1.5 per cent of 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.

“Water is sacred to us and we are reminded through our grandchildren and children why we must protect and preserve our Water,” says Chickadee Richard, an advocate from Treaty 1 Territory providing a welcome and introduction to the town hall this evening. “Water brings life to everything, without water there is no life for anyone or any being. It’s important for us humans to put our hearts and minds together to protect our Sacred Water.”

“Energy East is a crisis of national unity, but not of the divisive west-east variety Premier Wall and others are trying to stir up,” adds Maude Barlow. “It is a test of our ability to unite around the shared objective of protecting our waterways.”

The free public town hall is co-hosted by the Council of Canadians and the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition. The event is co-sponsored by the Wilderness Committee Manitoba Field Office, the University of Winnipeg Students Association (UWSA), Fun Class (UWSA), 350.org and Boreal Action Centre.