What is ‘Energy East’?
In early 2013 TransCanada came to North Grenville looking for support for their Energy East project. If built, it would become the largest fossil fuel pipeline in North America. Capable of moving over 1.1 million barrels per day, it would transport diluted tar sands bitumen (“dilbit”) from Alberta to New Brunswick for export. That pipeline would cross very vulnerable features in our region; passing through wetlands from Stittsville to the Baxter Conservation Area, before crossing beneath the Rideau River.
North Grenville residents have expressed a number of concerns about this project. Sustainable North Grenville has examined these at length in a series of posts and articles, which are now available below. Our aim is to spark discussion about the kind of future we want to have in North Grenville and how we will collectively decide it.
Energy East and Local Democracy
Residents first heard of the proposed pipeline when Mayor Gordon spoke positively of it on radio news. Reaction was swift and strong. Over 300 locals signing a petition asking Council to “to oppose the proposed pipeline until a full assessment has been made of the potential impacts on our drinking water, air and land, and associated risks to the Rideau River system.”
Energy East Concern #1: Pipeline Spills
Coming from Stittsville, much of the Energy East pipeline will pass through wetlands before crossing the Rideau River at the Baxter Conservation Area, then it will run through agricultural lands. This was deemed reasonable for the existing pipeline when it was first approved for natural gas, but is it still reasonable for oils and diluted bitumen?
Energy East Concern #2: Risk Assessment
So, if NG Council wants to follow the example of County Council and decide whether the pipeline is in our collective best interests, shouldn’t they do so after they’ve taken stock of all the foreseeable costs and benefits?
Energy East Concern #3: What Help After an Accident
…Nothing about compensation for property value loss from spills or the risk of one, or productivity loss, health impacts, evacuation costs, business contingency costs, impacts during construction, posting of bonds, emergency responses and readiness costs, the use of chemical dispersants, cost of temporary and permanent water system replacement… the list goes on.
Energy East Concern #4: Rail vs Pipeline
…it is not one or the other for Energy East; no promise has ever been made to halt rail shipments if a pipeline is built. Further, the more dilbit that is shipped by pipeline, the greater the need for diluent (a refining by-product). We have no guarantee that this doesn’t mean that Saudi diluent won’t be shipped by rail from the East Coast back to Alberta. And diluent is far more toxic than bitumen.
Energy East Concern #5: Canadian Oil for Canadians
Ultimately, with Energy East there is no plan to refine heavy oil in Eastern Canada. What we do know about their plan is that partner company Irving Oil intends to build big tanks and big loading terminals in St John NB so that big tankers can take it to where those heavy oil refineries already exist, and that’s not in Canada.
Energy East Wrap-Up: Just Don’t Say “Yes”
The aim of this series of articles was to demonstrate to the public and local government the scale and scope of deeply concerning issues surrounding Energy East. It was started following the Sustainable North Grenville deposition to Council on September 19 where we were shocked to hear that Staff was winding up their research and Council had no plans for public engagement. Then days later Mayor Gordon led County Council to sign a letter of support for Energy East. We had even less confidence that reason was holding sway or that processes would be transparent in North Grenville.