New student coalition vows to block tar sands pipelines at Quebec border

ECO committed to ending all fossil fuel pipeline projects in Quebec and shutting down the tar sands.

by: Obert Madondo  | Published Thursday, Nov 6, 2014

Energy East Pipeline. (Credit: TransCanada)

Energy East Pipeline. (Credit: TransCanada)

A new student coalition promises to block Transcanada’s Energy East and Enbridge’s line 9B tar sands pipeline projects right “at Quebec border.”

Étudiant-e-s Contre les Oléoducs (ECO), launched this week, says its mandate is to “promote science-based policy alternatives, as well as respect for the ecological limits of our planet and for Indigenous rights and Aboriginal title.”

To that end, ECO will strive to put an end “to all fossil fuel pipeline projects in Quebec, with the intention of shutting down the tar sands.”

“Among our students there is a tremendous appetite for doing what is necessary to stop climate change,” said ECO spokesperson, and Concordia Student Union VP External, Anthony Garoufalis-Auger. “This coalition seeks to unite the Quebec student movement, the most powerful such movement in North America, behind a simple message: these pipelines will not pass.”

If built, the 4,400 Energy East pipeline would become North America’s largest oil pipeline, It would carry 1.1 million barrels of crude per day, including crude from the tar sands, from Alberta to Canada’s East Coast.

The Council of Canadians says the pipeline would “lead to massive tanker exports from the Atlantic coast to Europe, India, China and the U.S” and gas shortages in Ontario and Quebec. A report released in May by The Council of Canadians, Ecology Action Centre, Environmental Defence and Equiterre says Energy East would yield meagre benefits for Canada, with most of the oil heading for export markets like India and Europe.

Environmental experts have warned that the both Energy East and Line 9B pipeline projects would lead to run away climate change and oil spills.

ECO hopes to add more firepower to First Nations and community groups already pushing back against tar sands and pipeline projects in Quebec and across Canada. First Nations in Canada are leading the people power resistance as they increasingly raise sovereignty claims and environmental concerns.

A report released by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and Oil Change International last week confirmed that grassroots protests against the fossil fuel industry work.

The report, Material Risks: How Public Accountability Is Slowing Tar Sands Development, noted that successful public protests by grassroots movements opposed to the expansion of Canada’s tar sands productions cost Big Oil a staggering US$17.1 billion between 2010 and 2013. It noted that the protests resulted in costly delays and “project constellations” for projects such as TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, which were “once thought inevitable.”

“ECO hopes to shut down the tar sands by blocking the export of oil through Quebec, much as environmental opposition has already delayed proposed pipelines to British Columbia and the United States,” said ECO in a statement. “ECO supports all forms of non-violent action to block pipelines and fossil fuel extraction projects. The Coalition plans to send a clear message to oil companies and their investors: students will not sit idly by while they continue to wreak havoc on the environment and threaten the future of our planet.”

Julie Chamberland, ECO spokesperson and member of the executive of the Fédération étudiante de l’Université de Sherbrooke (FEUS), added: “The science doesn’t get any clearer. Our leaders are betraying our future. To accept that betrayal without a fight would be nothing short of suicidal.”

ECO currently represents 70,000 Quebec students and expects a spike in membership before a maiden protest planned for Montreal on November 15th. The coalition’s statement said the protest has been endorsed by L’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ) and other leading student movements in Quebec. It added that ASSÉ and Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), Quebec’s other main student federation, oppose the pipelines.

Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on Twitter.com/Obiemad

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based independent journalist and progressive political blogger. He's the publisher and editor of The Canadian Progressive.