Risk of Energy East to Water and Atlantic Coast Too Great Groups Tell NEB on First Day of Hearings in Saint John

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Risk of Energy East to Water and Atlantic Coast Too Great Groups Tell NEB on First Day of Hearings in Saint John

A bitumen spill would bring widespread, devastating economic and environmental impacts to region

Saint John, NB - As oil from the Husky Energy pipeline spill continues to wreak havoc on the water supply of over 70,000 people in Saskatchewan, groups representing indigenous people, fishers, environmentalists, social justice advocates, and local residents in Saint John gathered this morning at the opening of the National Energy Board (NEB) panel sessions for the Energy East pipeline and tanker project with one unified message — the risk to water and the Atlantic Coast are too great and Energy East must be rejected.

“Our values are connected spiritually to the land, water and air and we follow the original instructions from the Great Mystery to protect and preserve our homeland,” said Ron Tremblay, Grand Chief of the Wolastoqewi Kci-putuwosuwinuwok or Maliseet Grand Council. “For this reason, we oppose the Energy East Pipeline in order to protect our non-ceded homeland and waterways, our traditional and cultural connection to our lands, waterways, and air.”

Across Canada opposition is mounting to the Energy East pipeline. Two months ago, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador also expressed opposition to Energy East. More than half the population of Quebec and 300 of its municipalities are opposed, including Montreal. Last week, the MRC of Vaudreuil-Soulanges refused to give TransCanada a permit to run tests it needed to find the best way for the pipeline to cross the Ottawa River saying that the risk to the water is too great following the Saskatchewan spill.

“We’re hearing real concerns from our communities and fishers about this pipeline and the high risk of a catastrophic spill. We have come to know the ins and outs of the Bay of Fundy for many generations,” explained Colin Sproul, spokesperson for the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen's Association. “The bottom line is we have not been consulted during TransCanada’s assessments even though we know these waters better than they do and will be among the first impacted.”

He added the new tar sands supertankers would carry over 330 million barrels per year through their fishing grounds in the Bay of Fundy.

While TransCanada said last week that oil spills are rare, the facts prove otherwise. Catastrophic pipeline failures, spills and the inability of pipeline companies to prevent, predict or contain spills across Canada are regular occurrences.

“Alberta has had over 37,000 oil spills in 37 years, which amounts to 2 oil spills every single day, while Saskatchewan has had around 18,000 spills since 1990,” said Lynaya Astephen of the Red Head - Anthony’s Cove Preservation Association. “Pipeline spills are common not rare and for us residents who live adjacent to the proposed end terminal it is a risk we are not prepared to take.”

“It is shocking we are even considering a new pipeline in the context of  our commitment as a nation to tackle climate change,” said Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director of the Sierra Club Foundation of Canada. “The tanker traffic associated with this proposal will threaten the critically endangered right whale, the Bay of Fundy ecosystem, and other aquatic species that live in rivers and streams in its 4500 km long path .”

“This is an export pipeline, and I think that folks don’t always realize that. These supertankers pose great risk to fishers, tourism and coastal communities here in the Bay of Fundy and the Atlantic Coast of the US”, said Stephen Thomas, Energy Campaign Coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre.

“There is a strong appetite across Canada for more climate jobs, jobs that will help fight climate change and build a future where we aren’t dependant on fossil fuels,” explains Daniel Cayley-Daoust, Energy and Climate Campaigner for the Council of Canadians. “The truth is that the Energy East pipeline will only provide 105 direct long term jobs in New Brunswick, will deepen New Brunswick’s and Canada’s addiction to oil, and put thousands of jobs at risk. That doesn’t sound like good economic foresight to me.”

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Founded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is Canada’s leading social action organization, mobilizing a network of 60 chapters across the country.

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