Energy East pipeline carries more risks than rewards for Ontario, says report

“This project simply isn’t worth the risk” ~ Maude Barlow

by: Obert Madondo  | Aug 19, 2015

The Ontario Energy Board says TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline carries more risks than rewards for Ontario residents and First Nations. (Photo: Environmental Defence/Flickr/CC)

The Ontario Energy Board says TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline carries more risks than rewards for Ontario residents and First Nations. (Photo: Environmental Defence/Flickr/CC)

The proposed Energy East pipeline carries more risks than rewards for Ontario residents and First Nations.

That was the conclusion reached by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), an independent and impartial public regulatory agency, after its review of TransCanada’s 4,400 km pipeline. The report, “Giving Ontarians a Voice on Energy East,” was released last Thursday.

“At the request of the Minister of Energy, the OEB led an open and impartial review of the potential benefits and impacts of the proposed Energy East from an Ontario perspective,” the OEB said in a press release. “After the most comprehensive consultation it has ever undertaken, the OEB has determined that there is an imbalance between the economic and environmental risks of the Project, and the expected benefits for Ontarians.”

Canada’s national energy strategy relies on the expansion of the Alberta tar sands. It’s a strategy that undermines Canadian democracy, and Indigenous rights and livelihoods. Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges says the strategy creates conditions that allow oil profiteers to “dig up the Alberta tar sands in an orgy of environmental degradation.”

If built, Energy East would become North America’s largest oil pipeline, transporting 1.1 million barrels of crude per day from the Alberta tar sands to Canada’s East Coast. The pipeline would impact more than 75 communities in Alberta, Sakatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec. According to environmental experts, both Energy East and Enbridge’s Line 9B would increase the risk of oil spills and “run away climate change”.

“The primary concerns of Ontarians are about pipeline safety, and the impact of Energy East on their lakes, rivers and drinking water in the event of a spill,” says Rosemarie Leclair, Chair and CEO of the OEB, in a press release.

RELATED: Canadian Environmental Group Uses Satire To Highlight Energy East Pipeline Risks

The Ontario government requires that pipelines built in Ontario have the “highest available technical standards for public safety and environmental protection”. The OEB report found that Energy East failed to meet these standards.

Ontario also requires that pipelines in the province “have demonstrable economic benefits for Ontarians”. The OEB report found that the economic benefits claimed by TransCanada and Energy East supporters in the Canadian government “are likely to be modest.” Instead, Energy East would drive up natural gas prices in eastern Ontario.

According to the Council of Canadians, one the notable progressive organizations on the frontlines of the grassroots-inspired resistance to the unbridled expansions of the Alberta tar sands and pipelines, the OEB report “echoes national concerns” about Energy East.

“It is no surprise that protecting waterways from the risk of a massive pipeline spill is a key concern of Ontarians,” said Maude Barlow, the Council’s national chairperson, in a press release. “The sheer size of the proposed Energy East pipeline means a spill threatens to be the largest Canada has ever seen. This pipeline would cross critical drinking water sources. At a time of crisis for both our climate and our water, this project simply isn’t worth the risk.”

The Council noted that the OEB underestimates Energy East’s “serious climate pollution consequences”.

The OEB report made a number of recommendations to lessen Energy East’s environmental impact and ensure that Ontario’s First Nation, Métis and other communities impacted by the pipeline have an ongoing role in the construction and operation of the pipeline. The OEB also hopes that its report will empower the Ontario government during its intervention at the National Energy Board (NEB)’s forthcoming hearings on Energy East.

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Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow me on Twitter: @Obiemad

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based blogger, activist, photographer, digital rights enthusiast, former political aide, and former international development administrator. He's the founder and editor of these independent publications: The Canadian Progressive, a political blog dedicated to progressive Canadian journalism; The Zimbabwean Progressive, a political blog dedicated to producing fearless, progressive, adversarial, unapologetic, and activism-oriented Zimbabwean journalism; and Charity Files, a publication dedicated to journalism in the charitable public's interest. Follow Obert on Twitter: @Obiemad