Energy East and Thunder Bay: A local sequence of our chapter’s involvement in the pipeline debate

The past few months have seen a lot of active debate over TransCanada’s proposed $12 billion Energy East pipeline. The company is seeking to convert a decades-old pipeline to ship diluted bitumen from Alberta to Eastern Canada for export. At its closest range, Energy East is planned to run 60 km north of Thunder Bay, and just 8 km from Dog Lake and 11 km north if Nipigon. In March of this year, the Council of Canadians Thunder Bay Chapter joined in a deputation to Thunder Bay City Council asking them to formally oppose the project. Here’s what has followed:

July 27: A letter to the editor in The Chronicle-Journal from CoC Thunder Bay underscores safety concerns regarding pipeline leak detection, even among state-of-the-art technologies that have failed in the recent past. Read the full letter here:

July 29: A TransCanada spokesperson counters the letter’s arguments, insisting that pipeline safety is a top priority for the company, which includes constant monitoring and regular inspections.

August 28: A spokesman for the $12 billon project argues that any formal opposition to the project by the City of Thunder Bay is “premature.” As reported in the Chronicle-Journal:

August 31: Nearly 100 people join a coalition representing Environment North, Ontario Nature, Citizens United for a Sustainable Planet, Council of Canadians – Thunder Bay and Fossil Free Lakehead in a rally outside of City Hall to show citizen opposition to the proposed pipeline, and to encourage City Council to formally oppose the project. Council was scheduled to vote on a resolution to formally oppose the project, in a motion put forward by Councillor Paul Pugh and seconded by Coun. Aldo Ruberto.

August 31: Councillors debate the proposed Energy East pipeline that evening, but no final decision is made on the city’s stance on the project. After a motion put forward by Councillor Iain Angus, City Council defers its decision. The delay comes almost six months after a coalition of five citizens’ groups made a deputation to Council urging them to oppose the project (March 2015). From the CBC:

September 3: The Chronicle-Journal publishes an Op-Ed, arguing that Thunder Bay City Council faces a dilemma when weighing the pros and cons of Energy East: jobs vs. the environment. The letter concludes: “But the root of any such discussion must always be the issue of climate change, which is the most pressing issue of our time…If Thunder Bay needs a reason to oppose another pipeline, that is it.”

Stay tuned to our website and Facebook page for continued updates.

NAFTA compromises ability to cut water supply to the tar sands

A long-term study of the Athabasca River warns about the future availability of river water for the tar sands.

The Globe and Mail reports, “Based on a 900-year record obtained from tree rings, researchers found that the Athabasca watershed has historically been subjected to prolonged dry spells that are far more severe than anything the region has experienced since the oil industry arrived there in the 1960s. And with climate change threatening to increase the frequency and severity of droughts, they say, Alberta’s oil producers may be relying on an ‘untenable assumption’ that the river’s flow today is representative of what they can expect in years to come.”

The article highlights, “Currently, oil sands production consumes less than 5 per cent of the river’s annual flow, amounting to 187 million cubic metres in 2012. But water use has been projected to climb to 505 million cubic metres within the next decade.” Right now about 1.08 billion barrels a year (2.98 million bpd) are extracted from the tar sands and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers sees that increasing to 2.35 billion barrels a year (6.44 million bpd) by 2030.

Read the full story here:

Debate on bulk water exports to U.S. resurfaces despite recent droughts in Canada

Recent articles in the Globe and Mail, Yahoo News, and the Vancouver Sun signal that the debates on bulk water exports are resurfacing – and not only because of NDP leader Thomas Mulcair’s comments as environment minister in Quebec.

Read the full story here:


H20 in Election 2014: Your guide to water and the federal election

With the election three weeks away, water has barely made it on the radar of federal political parties. Want to learn what the different parties’ positions are on key water issues? What should you ask parties at all-candidates debates or when they come knocking at your door? This blog gives an overview of some key water issues, parties’ positions and includes questions to ask local candidates at debates, when they come to your door or even in the Twitterverse. Leading up to October 19, it’s up to us to make sure federal parties know the importance of safeguarding water.

From the Council of Canadians national website:

All Candidates forum coming up

An all-candidates forum for the Thunder Bay Rainy River Riding & Thunder Bay Superior-North Riding will take place on Thursday, October 8th from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Finlandia Hall.

Please share widely among your contacts, and come prepared with questions for the candidates!


Weighing in on the politics of oil in Canada

Here is a link to a Council of Canadians article that is a good starting point to look at the politics of oil in Canada, the various pipeline proposals there are and where each political party stands:

Please consider this as part of your decision making for your vote on October 19th!


Be a part of the CoC annual conference!

The Council of Canadians is bringing together chapter activists, supporters and allies for a dynamic weekend of public forums, workshops and panels at its Annual Conference and 30th Annual Business Meeting, titled Imaginations: Reframing our Collective Future from October 23-25, 2015 in Windsor, Ontario.  You can be a part of it!

There is one travel-subsidized spot available for a Thunder Bay Council of Canadians supporter (the participant would be required to pay for accommodation, conference fees, etc).

Anyone who is interested can email for details.

CoC-brochure1 CoC-brochure2

Energy East pipeline could leak up to 2.6 million litres/day undetected: report

On September 2, the Council of Canadians launched a new report on the Energy East Pipeline that predicts a 15% chance per year of a rupture based on TransCanada’s recent rupture record.

View the report here: