August 31, 2015
Thunder Bay City Council Defers Vote to Oppose Energy East
The bid to have Thunder Bay City Council formally oppose the proposed Energy East Pipeline, a reckless plan by TransCanada Pipelines to ship diluted bitumen from the Tar Sands 4600 km across Canada, was delayed tonight. Councillor Iain Angus moved to defer a decision on the resolution.
“We find it puzzling that Iain Angus moved to defer the motion, claiming that because the TCP application to the National Energy Board was incomplete it would be improper to vote to oppose Energy East,” said CUSP’s Peter Lang. “Almost a year and a half ago, long before the TCP application was ever even made, Angus led NOMA to publicly support the pipeline.”
“What’s most troubling to me,” said Paul Berger from CUSP, “is that the Councillor who moved to defer has been featured on TransCanada’s website promoting the pipeline. We need to ask Mr. Angus if he represents his constituents or TransCanada Pipelines.”
Ruth Cook from the Council of Canadians said:
“there is overwhelming public opposition to this pipeline plan; tonight, we’re disappointed that City Councillors deferred to the wishes of a multi-billion dollar corporation. We are happy, though, that Councillors spoke strongly of their duty to protect the environment. We are also inspired that there was talk of the need to move to clean energy. We expect the motion to pass when it comes back before Council.”
The motion came almost six months after a coalition of five citizen’s groups made a deputation to Council urging them to oppose the pipeline because spills are inevitable and because it would facilitate the expansion of the Alberta Tar Sands, adding greenhouse gas to the atmosphere equivalent to putting 7 million cars on the road.
“It’s a bit astounding,” said Paul Berger from CUSP, “that TransCanada Pipelines – a company that can’t even submit a complete project file to the National Energy Board – spoke to Council right before the vote and were unable to answer elementary questions about the project. Their spin continued though. The spokesperson claimed there were only minor incidents on the Keystone pipeline, a line that leaked 12 times in its first year of operation. The leaks included an 80,000 litre spill near Millner, North Dakota in 2011. It was reported to TCP by a landowner.”
TransCanada Pipelines has an abysmal safety record,” said Elysia PetroneReitberger from FossilFree Lakehead. “About once a year there’s a major leak or explosion in northern Ontario on the aging natural gas pipeline that would be converted. We should have no confidence that dilbit can be safely transported when the product the pipeline was designed for leaks and explodes so regularly.”
“We know what we need to know about this pipeline and this company,” said Scott Harris from Environment North. “Waiting will not change the climate change implications of Energy East and TransCanada Pipeline’s infrastructure will not miraculously stop leaking and exploding. We live here. We will be here when the motion comes back to Council for their vote.”
Over 800 citizens signed a petition asking City Council to oppose the Energy East pipeline conversion and community groups, including the Thunder Bay & District Labour Council, wrote urging Council to oppose the pipeline conversion. A rally outside City Hall just prior to the meeting confirmed citizen opposition to the pipeline with 130 people linking arms in symbolic solidarity with citizens groups across the country. Sixty-five people filled the visitor’s gallery and overflow room to watch the vote.
The coalition groups include: Environment North, Ontario Nature, CUSP – Citizens United for a Sustainable Planet, Thunder Bay Chapter Council of Canadians, and Fossil Free Lakehead.