TRANSCANaDA ABANDONED plans for an Energy East oil port in Cacouna, Quebec, earlier this month, pushing the projected finish date of the pipeline back two years, to 2020.
TRANSCANaDA ABANDONED plans for an Energy East oil port in Cacouna, Quebec, earlier this month, pushing the projected finish date of the pipeline back two years, to 2020. This is partly due to beluga whales in the St. Lawrence River around the Cacouna area recently being named an endangered species, and TransCanada’s commitment to minimizing its environmental impact. The announcement also follows substantial protests against the port.
Environmental groups are coming out strongly against the pipeline. More than 60 organizations have signed onto a letter addressed to National Energy Board head Peter Watson, including the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. Protests in Halifax by Stop Energy East Halifax ultimately ended in the National Board of Energy considering opening pipeline safety meetings to the public. And 350.org, in a move inspired by the voter registration drives of the 1960s, campaigned to have thousands of people apply to intervene in the NEB review process.
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Yet there is still no clear consensus amongst the provinces about the $12-billion pipeline. Trade unions in the Maritime provinces support the project, whereas Ontario and Quebec, in November 2014, ultimately agreed on seven principles that would be used to decide whether the project gains their support. These principles include greenhouse gas emissions and environmental safeguarding. A month later, the premiers have decided not to focus on climate change-related issues concerning the pipeline, saying that it doesn’t add anything to the debate.
The risk of a spill is no small issue, especially considering how many people and homes the crude oil would affect if a pipe burst.
The risk of a spill is no small issue, especially considering how many people and homes the crude oil would affect if a pipe burst. Early last year, Winnipeg’s environmental groups raised some red flags when it was discovered that the pipeline will run in close proximity to Lake Shoal, a source of drinking water. In Ontario, the proposed pipeline would run through rural areas in the south end of Ottawa and across the Rideau River. There are additional long-term consequences of greenhouse gas emissions, which add to the effects of global climate change.
These are just a few of the issues that Environmental Defence raised in their campaign to put an end to the Energy East pipeline project. In a video released in January – and probably the most creative approach to Energy East so far – the organization shows their sarcastic side by educating us about the “migration patterns” of the elusive species, “Tar Sands Oil.” Its nature is just as unique as its path, the David Attenborough-esque narrator explains: Starting from its home in Alberta and ending in any ocean it can find, tar sands oil is more detrimental to the environment than it is beneficial.
With the video, Environmental Defence uses an unexpected format, different than the usual doom-and-gloom tar sands campaign. With over 20,000 views, the video makes a memorable impact on viewers, and educates us about how building the Energy East pipeline would facilitate the negative impact of tar sands oil on everyday life.
The video is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise foreboding array of protests, campaigns and catastrophe predictions.
Samantha Hui is an A\J editorial volunteer and an undergrad student in Environment and Resource Studies at the University of Waterloo.