Halifax, Nova Scotia (August 1, 2013) – Organizations across the Maritimes reject TransCanada’s proposal to ship 1.1 million barrels a day of tar sands oil across the country to a terminus in St. John, New Brunswick on the shores of the Bay of Fundy.
“Over the past year we have heard countless stories of pipelines leaking around North America. It is not a question of whether the Energy East pipeline would leak but when and where,” worries Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director of Sierra Club’s Atlantic Chapter. With the amount of oil being transported, a leak would result in millions of litres of toxic and corrosive crude oil being spilled into the environment. “People on Canada’s West Coast have rejected the Northern Gateway pipeline; Americans are rejecting pipelines going south. Why would we in Eastern Canada accept the risks that no one else will?”
Catherine Abreu, Energy Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre in Nova Scotia is outraged at TransCanada’s claims that the pipeline will support Canadian energy security and create jobs in Atlantic Canada. “We won’t be fooled so easily,” promises Abreu. “Given refining capacity in Eastern Canada and Irving’s announcement of a new oil terminal being built in St. John, it is obvious that the oil coming through the pipeline is meant for export to other countries and not for use in Eastern Canada.”
Currently, Maritime refineries do not have the capacity to refine the crude oil that would flow from Energy East. Even were a refinery retrofitted for this purpose, Eastern Canada’s maximum oil consumption of 700,000 barrels per day would leave upwards of 45% of the pipeline oil for export.
“The few jobs created by the pipeline would be short-term,” adds Abreu. “Developing our domestic renewable energy sources and investing in energy efficiency are how we’ll create long-term employment for Maritimers.”
Matthew Abbott, Fundy Baykeeper with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick says the Bay of Fundy is one of Eastern Canada’s most ecologically and economically sensitive centres. “Any oil spilled in the bay would spread at a faster rate than in other ecosystems because of Fundy’s exceptionally strong tides,” explains Abbott. “This would have devastating consequences for all of the Maritime Provinces; our livelihoods depend on our marine ecosystems.”
“The health of Maritime Provinces and people depends on us reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and stopping the reckless expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure,” continues Abbott.
Fitzgerald wonders whether TransCanada’s promise of decreased fuel prices is another fiction. TransCanada proposes to convert a natural gas line flowing from Western Canada to transport the oil, likely decreasing the availability of natural gas and increasing its price. “Maritimers rely on natural gas for energy to light and heat their homes and an increase in natural gas prices would mean increased strain household expenditures.”
“Building infrastructure of the past rather than investing in the future in order to export oil through one of Canada’s most precious bodies of water will do Maritimers a great disservice,” concludes Abreu.