Local groups deployed a large inflatable elephant outside the hotel where premiers met today in Ottawa. The groups were calling attention to the premiers’ refusal to evaluate the controversial Energy East pipeline’s climate pollution footprint. Transporting 1.1 million barrels per day, TransCanada’s 4,400-kilometre Energy East pipeline from Alberta to ports in Quebec and New Brunswick would be the largest tar sands pipeline in North America.
“There is a massive 32 megatonne climate pollution elephant sitting in on the premiers meeting,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “Provincial leaders can’t be serious about addressing climate change and ignore this pipeline’s massive potential to drive up pollution.”
According to the Pembina Institute, filling the pipeline would generate an additional 30 to 32 million tonnes of carbon pollution, helping spur 650,000 to 750,000 barrels per day of additional production from the tar sands.
People are particularly upset with Ontario and Quebec’s backtracking from a condition for the pipeline announced in December to consider the project’s climate impacts.
“Evaluating the greenhouse gas emissions of the project while ignoring the tar sands production impacts is like evaluating the alcoholic content of a beer can and not the beer,” adds Larry Dobson of 350 Ottawa. “It’s ridiculous.”
A recent peer-reviewed report in the journal Nature found that 85 per cent of Canada’s tar sands must stay in the ground if we are to avoid two degrees of global warming.
“This 40-year pipeline project doesn’t even make economic sense with the arrival of lowered oil prices and the inevitability that world leaders will have to take strong action on climate change,” says Ben Powless, Ecology Ottawa’s Energy East Campaigner.
Climate change impacts are one of several risks groups across the country have been raising, including the potential for massive spills, particularly in waterways, impacts on natural gas access and TransCanada’s poor safety track record.