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Energy East: The risky pipeline bigger than Keystone XL

Adam Scott, Climate & Energy Program Manager | Environmental Defence - April 12th 2014

TransCanada’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline project generates a lot of headlines. But did you know another risky TransCanada project – even larger than Keystone – is on the horizon and could put hundreds of communities across Canada at risk of an oil spill? 

TransCanada’s Energy East is a pipeline plan to get tar sands oil from Alberta to the east coast, in one massive hail mary pass. The plan would see an old natural gas pipeline converted to ship heavy oil from Alberta through to Ontario, and a huge new pipeline built across Quebec and New Brunswick. The oil would then be exported through massive new export tanker terminals in the St. Lawrence River, and the Bay of Fundy.

Backers of Energy East want us to believe that this pipeline plan is mainly about getting cheap western oil to eastern refineries. But, as a new report shows, Energy East is an export pipeline – not a made-in-Canada energy solution.

Energy East is intended to export vast quantities of unrefined tar sands oil. Energy East will have a staggering capacity of carrying 1.1 million barrels per day. Of that, between 750,000 to 1 million barrels would likely be exported unrefined via tankers. 

That’s because refineries in eastern Canada will already have most of their oil demand met from alternate sources, including imports of cheap U.S. shale-oil by rail and barge. Energy East just isn’t needed to supply eastern Canada’s refineries. 

Energy East will put communities from Alberta to Atlantic Canada at risk of an oil spill, with few benefits. Communities in New Brunswick have good reason to ask why in spite of promises, there have been so few concrete examples of job creation as part of this proposal. If the pipeline exports most of the oil unrefined, there will be few economic opportunities for eastern Canadians. 

high pressure bitument pipelineSo, why does TransCanada want to export so much oil? To fatten its bottom line while facilitating the oil industry’s reckless plans to triple tar sands production.
If Energy East isn’t built, the oil industry will have to slow down its irresponsible expansion plans. Current plans to triple tar sands production would mean the industry’s global warming emissions, already the fastest growing source of GHGs in Canada, would quadruple. This would mean Canada would not be able to meet any reasonable climate target, at a time when the world is already grappling with the impacts of a warming world.

An export pipeline is about sharing the risk, not sharing the wealth.

If Energy East is built, Canadians will see more pollutionmore global warming and a growing risk of devastating oil spills. Most of the benefits, however, will flow only to the big oil companies. Energy East will benefit TransCanada’s bottom line, not the millions of Canadians who live along the pipeline’s path.

Canada should not be putting our economy at risk by building our future on oil - a single, volatile commodity - in an increasingly carbon constrained world.

Canada doesn't need another gargantuan export pipeline. Around the world, other countries are powering their economies with modern, safe clean energy. Canada is at risk of being left behind as we cling to last century’s dirty fossil fuel.

We need investment and leadership to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. We need to join other countries like Germany who are moving towards modern, safe, clean energy. We need to prioritize growing the areas of our economy that won’t cook our climate, pollute our communities and poison our water.

Learn more about the Energy East export pipeline here.

Live in Ontario? Tell Ontario to say no to Energy East here.

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