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: http://www.chroniclejournal.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/pipeline-company-promises-full-of-leaks/article_01a5a900-3408-11e5-a9be-4713696e3b18.html

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. http://www.chroniclejournal.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/safety-environment-important-to-pipeline/article_1ffc763a-3599-11e5-b1ab-27e7a4fd27c3.html

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: http://www.chroniclejournal.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/safety-environment-important-to-pipeline/article_1ffc763a-3599-11e5-b1ab-27e7a4fd27c3.html

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: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/thunder-bay-delays-decision-on-proposed-energy-east-pipeline-1.3210867

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.” http://www.chroniclejournal.com/opinion/editorials/council-faces-pipeline-dilemma/article_71f181fc-51b3-11e5-991d-b7c7d277fb5c.html

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

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