THUNDER BAY – Local opponents of the now cancelled Energy East pipeline are applauding its demise.
Paul Berger, who heads Citizens United for a Sustainable Planet, said TransCanada Pipelines’ decision to walk away from the controversial project after four years is cause for celebration.
“This is a turning point for energy projects in Canada. Citizens will no longer abide massive fossil fuel infrastructure when we need a fast shift to renewable energy,” Berger said in a release issued on Thursday.
Berger said the Trudeau government was elected after promising to include climate change in its environmental assessment process for pipelines.
“It faced strong criticism when it announced that the TransMountain and Energy East projects would be exempt since they had already begun,” Berger said in the release. “Then, a secret meeting between TransCanada and the National Energy Board was disclosed, causing the environmental assessment process to collapse and restart, this time including greenhouse gas emissions.
“TransCanada knows that no pipeline with the climate destruction potential of Energy East could ever be approved.”
Ruth Cook, of the Council of Canadians Thunder Bay chapter, was equally thrilled the project, which sought to convert a natural gas pipeline to one that instead carried oil, was cancelled by TransCanada Pipelines.
“The opposition to Energy East happened all across the country, leading to what Prime Minister Trudeau called ‘a lack of social licence,’” Cook said in a statement.
“From there we went to revamping/restructuring the National Energy Board, the addition of an assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions both from the production of the bitumen (oil) and from the end use of the product.
“Anyone could see that this assessment would not meet the federal government guidelines on emissions which have been set to lower Canada’s total emissions in accordance with the Paris Climate Accord.”
Cook went on to say the world depends on a finite planet and environmental concerns must be taken seriously.
“We must develop a world which is not run by greed and the need for profits, but for the benefit of citizens. People give power and life to political processes, and we are very happy that our work has helped to stop this unsafe and polluting, profit-driven fossil fuel project.”
Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association president Wendy Landry is disappointed by the cancellation because there’s potential for safety risks to communities along rail lines.
“It’s about safety for our municipalities,” said Landry.
“Natural Resources Canada has said that the safest way to transport oil is through the pipeline and that, you know, there have been tragedies that have displayed how tragic it can be by rail or by truck.”
Landry added there’s a huge safety issue when you look at the distance between the NOMA community and the railroads.
“Everybody is concerned and it’s proven that our pipelines are the safest way to transport oil.”
NOMA will continue to pursue public safety, and campaign the federal government for railway speed restrictions.