First Published in the Chronicle Journal Saturday, September 5, 2015
On Aug. 31, Thunder Bay city council deferred a vote to oppose TransCanada PipeLines’ Energy East proposal. Certainly it was a disappointing result for our coalition of local citizens — but it was not completely unexpected. What was unexpected was the sudden appearance of TransCanada PipeLines (TCP), added to the agenda on the day of the vote!
When our elected council looks closely at this plan they will see how flawed it is. Transporting tar sands bitumen through an old natural gas pipeline at 1.1 million barrels per day across the Lake Superior watershed is a very bad idea. The evidence of past natural gas leaks and explosions in the same line over the last dozen years should be most convincing.
At the meeting several councillors spoke eloquently about these flaws. Many councillors noted the importance of protecting our land and water and the need to move towards clean sources of energy. But then something puzzling happened. Coun. Iain Angus sided with TransCanada and moved to defer the vote — some seven months after our original deputation.
He claimed it would be premature to oppose the project before the project description was complete. Yet, Coun. Angus’ endorsement has been featured on the TransCanada website, so it’s no secret that he supports the project. It was Coun. Angus, after all, who led the Northern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) to formally support the pipeline proposal over a year ago!
If consistency is apparently challenging for Coun. Angus, accuracy is TCPs spokesperson Stefan Baransky’s downfall. In his deputation to council, Mr. Baransky made statements about pipeline safety and increased rail traffic that are demonstrably false, and he was unwilling or unable to answer questions about a pipeline safety report that he quoted. He did not inspire trust.
Many citizens of Thunder Bay do not want Energy East. Over 800 signatures attest to that and 130 people who oppose this pipeline rallied outside City Hall before the vote and 65 packed the visitor’s gallery and overflow room.
The motion will come back to council two months after TCP submits its final proposal to the National Energy Board. When the vote comes we’ll be there, asking councillors to represent the citizens of Thunder Bay and to protect the land, water and climate by opposing Energy East.
for Citizens United For a Sustainable Planet, Council of Canadians, Ontario Nature, Environment North, Fossil Free Lakehead