A Lappe consensus on Energy East pipeline

By Peter Lang

First published in the Chronicle Journal January 24, 2017

In contrast to the Common Voice forum at the Oliver Road Community Centre on the subject of “significant water crossings,” there was a consensus outcome at the Lappe meeting on Saturday morning, Jan. 21. Despite slippery road conditions about 15 people attended. While the first part of the meeting was a prepared presentation to set parameters for the discussion, instead of breakdown, this time the meeting achieved consensus. And to make it clear that the meeting wasn’t ‘stacked by the pipeline opposition,’ this consensus arose from a group where only a few knew each other prior to the meeting.

Essentially, after it became obvious that virtually all of us were opposed to the Energy East pipeline proposal itself, we held a vote — and all but one agreed that the CVNW consultation process was flawed.

This was not just because of CVNW’s scope, narrowly focusing on “significant water crossings.” It was more that we didn’t trust the motives of TransCanada PipeLines, the corporation which has consistently misrepresented issues, hidden and ignored relevant information, and obscured its safety record.

What broke the ice amongst us was that four people in the audience had had past personal work and research-related experience on the pipeline. With that ‘authority,’ and with many examples, they were able to relate how such unconsidered aspects as heat, pressure, expansion, snow and ice, and the dynamic weight of bitumen would surely affect the integrity of a decades-old pipe.

Also questioned were the assumptions that inevitably oil will and should flow east, that the purpose of the pipeline was for energy self-sufficiency, and that we have to chose between oil by pipeline, or by rail.

It was strongly felt that, as presented, the Energy East proposal to repurpose the mainline gas pipeline to ship bitumen was for TransCanada’s profit, leaving us to assume all the risks to our environment.

Granted that some 15 people on one Saturday morning don’t officially represent the Lappe area itself — but it is very significant that there was such strong consensus amongst this diverse group.

Peter Lang