Citizen Action Monitor

New website helps Canadians stay informed about TransCanada Energy East pipeline developments

No 840 Posted by fw, August 26, 2013

Below is a sampling of what’s available on the website. Be sure to Sign the petition encouraging mayors and municipalities to oppose this proposed project. And to find out what else you can do to stop the pipeline, click on this link

Here’s the link to the website —

Say NO to TransCanada’s Energy East TarSands Pipeline


UPDATE August 1st 2013: TransCanada has announced they intend on moving forward with their Energy East Pipeline and have unfortunately even added to its capacity, making it now a 1.1 million barrel per day project.

Be sure to bring your concerns and your friends to the public engagement meetings TransCanada is hosting.

We must all act to correct TransCanada’s untruths about the safety of converting a very old natural gas mainline to transport high volumes of diluted bitumen. We must help our friends see through TransCanada’s claims of job creation and national energy security. Our waters and our environments need our voices.

TransCanada Pipelines’ West-to-East project (called “Energy East Pipeline”) would involve 3,000 kilometres of natural gas pipeline (TransCanada’s fifty-five year old mainline) being converted to carry diluted bitumen from the tar sands to the East Coast. There would also be 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline added. The pipeline would carry the astronomical volume of up to 1.1 million barrels per day across Canada (larger than the Keystone XL).

In the 55+ year history of this natural gas mainline there have already been several significant incidents. We can expect these numbers to increase as a pipeline built in the 1950’s begins use for something other than what it was intended. Oil is much more dangerous than Natural Gas when it leaks into the environment and tar sands oil (diluted bitumen) especially is nearly impossible to clean up because it sinks, unlike regular crude.

This pipeline traverses rivers, runs adjacent to lakes, and passes through several important waterways: Lake of the Woods, Temagami, Mattawa River, Ottawa River, St. Lawrence River, etc. This pipeline also passes through vital drinking water sources; for example, in North Bay, Ontario it goes through the Trout Lake watershed (and crosses the lake’s most Eastern point) which provides the municipal drinking water for over 54,000 people.



There’s a harmful assumption that we “need” this dirty tarsands oil … but we don’t! The economic benefits of the pipeline are exaggerated. Who really is benefitting from this? The answer is not the people, and not the planet’s environment — it only helps the oil industry. It will make oil companies richer and more powerful.

“Nations that export fossil fuel too often become over-reliant on that sector. That destabilizes the economy (as we’re seeing in Alberta), distorts priorities (leading to the so-called ‘Dutch disease‘ where other parts of the economy are neglected or ignored) and undermines democracy by holding government hostage” (we’ve already seen enormous lobbying power of industry with the omnibus bills). [Source]

“The Canadian public is being subjected to a misleading narrative and a misrepresentation of the facts by financial institutions, who like the government of Canada, are behaving as marketing executives for Big Oil.” [read full article where economist Robyn Allan disproves CIBC’s claim that “the failure to invest in needed transportation infrastructures could prove costly for Canadian producers, governments and the economy.” Plus, keep in mind that these Big Five Canadian banks (RBC, TD Bank, Scotiabank, CIBC and BMO) making claims like this have declared conflicts of interest, since they are also the largest investors in the tar sands.]

Our climate and our waters should not have to bear the threat of tar sands, especially not when it is the oil industry that reaps the reward. Instead of a risky project such as this, now is the time to focus on clean energy that brings us the rewards of a stable economy and a healthier future.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this and other tar sands pipeline charades is not only that a handful of well-positioned people will profit at all of our expense, those handful won’t even be responsible when the inevitable spill catastrophe occurs.


There is no reason to trust oil companies when they say pipelines are safe when there’s been spill after spill after spill. Leak detection systems miss 19 out of 20 spills. Arkansas tar sands spill: the leak detection system failed and the 22 ft gash went initially undetected.

Pressure changes inside a pipeline carrying dilbit can cause tiny bubbles of natural gas liquids develop in the fluid. These can mimic a leak on detection systems, and pipeline monitors have trouble telling the difference between true leaks and column separations. Consequently, in the spills we have seen (where the leak detection systems were working), oil continues to flow for hours because the alarm is being ignored.

Kalamazoo tar sands spill: the seventeen hour delay from the time of the rupture and their final shutoff of the pipeline was due to the belief by Enbridge’s control center that the leak detection system was giving a false alarm — since higher risk of false alarms for leak detection systems in pipelines moving diluted bitumen tar sands.

Communities have a right to be concerned by the poor state of leak detection technology —especially as we face industry proposals to move tar sands in aging pipelines – and particularly ones that transverse sensitive water resource. After all, when a spill happens, odds are we are going to be the ones to find it.

Did we mention this is an antique pipeline built over a generation ago…

TransCanada announced this project three days after the major tar sands oil leak from a tar sands pipeline operated by Exxon in Arkansas. The rhetoric coming out of the industry in response to that disaster positioned that this was an old pipeline and old pipelines leak (they are of course trying to drum up support for building shiny new pipelines). It is hard then to have any faith that a half-a-century old natural gas mainline across the Canadian Shield and through our Boreal forest is suitable for converting to an oil pipeline.

Speaking on the very same day Energy East was first publicly announced, Shawn Howard (main spokesman for TransCanada Corp) pointed out that pipeline technology has changed dramatically since the affected Arkansas line was built. This is why it is scary that the Energy East project will use pipeline as old as what failed in Arkansas.

“This makes a strong case for having new pipe infrastructure for moving this product around,” (referring to the fact that the Arkansas line was more than 40 years old) –Cal Dallas, Alberta’s International Relations Minister

“If anything, the incident spotlights our need to invest in modern energy infrastructure… The section of Pegasus pipeline that ruptured dated back to the 1940s. That one section of broken pipe, built seventy years ago without the technology or legal safety framework available today, does not reflect decades-worth of pipeline safety improvement.” –Charles Drevna, President, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers

“Unfortunately, when we’re moving millions of barrels of crude oil daily through 55,000 miles of trunk pipelines, accidents will occasionally happen. … The pipeline that ruptured in Arkansas was almost 70 years old.” –Bernard L. Weinstein, Associate Director, Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University and George W. Bush Institute Fellow

“The failure is probably connected to the pipeline’s advanced age. Like any other equipment or infrastructure, heavy use over a long time will wear on a pipeline’s structural integrity.” –James Valvo, Director of Policy, Americans for Prosperity


Job creation and energy security – or decreasing dependence on foreign oil – are two slogans that have been used by supporters of this pipeline. Projections indicate that neither benefit will occur. TransCanada inflates their job numbers. For their Keystone XL project, the US State Department report countered the job claims, estimating that the pipeline will only create roughly 35 permanent jobs, and 3,900 temporary contract jobs lasting one year. Some also claim that manufacturing jobs would be created, but TransCanada currently manufactures the majority of their steel in India.

Read: Pipeline jobs claims are questionable

This jobs argument becomes ironic when they talk about “pumping stations jobs” since TransCanada Corp has been recently cited by Canada’s National Energy Board for not meeting safety standards at their existing pumping stations. Instead of the required local systems (which would require local operators) they use a remote control-centre (in Calgary) to monitor alarms (same as the leak alarm system that failed in March’s Arkansas spill). It should also be added that they attempted to appeal this ruling. (TransCanada’s employee training has also been questioned)

There are far more jobs available in renewable energy technologies than the temporary pipeline jobs. The renewable energy industry is growing at twice the rate of the overall economy. We don’t need to sacrifice the environment for jobs. Jobs can be created with a reduction in carbon pollution, just as they were created when governments moved to reduce acid pollution and urban smog.

When a spill happens, the social and economic disruption is huge! This pipeline will cross land and bodies of water that sustains us and our economies — there is a huge potential of impact of spill on agriculture, recreational tourism, and other industries that deeply depend on a clean supply of water. Contamination resulting from a spill, or the cumulative effects of spills over the lifetime of the pipeline, would generate significant economic costs and job loss.

As a nation, we won’t be able to tackle the rise in carbon pollution if projects such as this goes through, particularly on the false arguments that it’s the only way to create jobs and secure economic growth in North America.

“Our union is opposed to these pipelines. Our energy workers know we need to lower our carbon footprint… (These) pipelines are job killers.” –Dave Coles, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada


The primary purpose of this pipeline is for foreign export, to supply the high-priced overseas markets. This pipeline project has nothing to do with Canada’s own energy security or decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. Canada is in the absurd position of promising foreign oil security, while we would continue to import for domestic use.

At the press conference where TransCanada announced this project, they also announced a partnership with  Irving Oil to build a large deepwater port in Saint John to export Western Canadian oil to the most lucrative markets via the world’s largest oil tankers. This of course is the complete opposite of how they attempt to position the Energy East Pipeline for public acceptance.

Furthermore, NAFTA guarantees US access this is oil first. As an example of this: “Newfoundland’s offshore oil fields produce just fewer than 200,000 barrels of oil a day, enough to meet all the oil demand in the four Atlantic provinces. Wouldn’t east coasters be most energy secure if they relied totally on their own oil? Absurdly, Newfoundlanders don’t get the oil they produce. The majority of it is exported and the U.S. gets first access to it through NAFTA’s proportionality clause.”

“NAFTA’s proportionality clause was never in the best interest of Canadians, only that of corporate oil. The clause was crafted to allow mainly foreign petro-corporations export as much Canadian oil and natural gas to the U.S. as possible. It was written before the end of the age of cheap oil and before we realized the coming catastrophe of climate change.”

Like the other proposed pipelines, “this is just another tar sands exporting ploy — all about exports and corporate profits and it has nothing to do with energy or environmental security for Canadians. The big oil companies (mainly foreign owned) and the big pipeline corporations seized on sending Alberta oil east since they risk being blocked from shipping south through the planned TransCanada’s Keystone XL line and west via the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to the B.C. coast. Shipping oil from Alberta 4,400 kilometres to the Atlantic is a big project (bigger in volume and longer in length than the Keystone XL), but big oil is desperate to get oil to coastal ports – any coast – where oil prices are much higher” [Source:] — they want this stuff re-priced at higher international market prices.

Oil company Cenovus CEO Brian Ferguson was frank about his company’s desire to access an Eastern port, saying it was the “export option that was most enticing about TransCanada’s proposal.” Cenovus is less interested in feeding the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John than it is accessing tidewater, so that crude can be sent by tankers to lucrative markets around the world.

“The capacity of the (TransCanada Energy East) pipeline is far in excess of the Irving refinery size so the key is to get to a deep water port and be able to put production onto tankers and access international markets. The plan is to be able to access tidewater and tankers and move volumes either down to the U.S. Gulf Coast or to Asia or to Europe from Saint John.” — Cenovus Oil CEO Brian Ferguson

Even Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver counters his own claims about energy security and brags how this pipeline would primarily open up new markets for Canadian oil. See how many times he says the name India in any speech about this project (though he does sadly say, “(with this project) you don’t have the issue of the construction and the potential environmental impact which has to be assessed. …in terms of the surrounding area through which it goes there’s no environmental impact.”)


“Industry and the Harper government are attempting to mislead the public into thinking these pipelines benefit consumers. The primary benefits are substantial profits to big oil while consumers are left with the risks of oils spills, cleanup costs and higher gas prices.” said Tzeporah Berman, co-founder of ForestEthics.

The proponents freely concede that if they couldn’t export the oil, they wouldn’t build the pipeline. TransCanada’s own presentations to industry show that the pipeline will raise oil prices – that is the stated economic rationale for when they seek investment. It doesn’t make money otherwise.

Bitumen is a “junk” crude which, because it requires upgrading and complex refining as well as considerable transportation costs, has always sold at a discount — it’s land-locked. As soon it reaches the coast it inflates to world market prices. The oil industry is increasingly looking to lucrative international diesel markets to increase its profits — refineries producing diesel for other markets actually means less gasoline for eastern consumers.

“I don’t see how it’s going to benefit consumers. I just don’t see it.” [Source:]

If there was any truth to the potential lower price of gas then we would see that trend in place in Alberta already.


“Conversion of TransCanada gas pipeline into oil pipeline could cost Ontarians big time. Basically, people in Ontario are paying to ship oil to Saint John, …Ontarians shouldn’t be forced to bear the cost of that in their natural gas rate… That cost should be borne by whoever is converting the natural gas pipeline,” says John Bennett of the Sierra Club.

The conversion distort the historical natural gas flow East and could reduce the company’s western gas shipments to Ontario as of October, 2015: “would affect the ability of (gas providers) to maintain reliable gas service past this date” Edith Chin, Enbridge. [Source:]

“Some unorthodox opponents of the pipeline are three gas distributors who claim Energy East will mean less natural gas for the Central and Eastern Canada markets. Gas customers may be forced to pay higher rates if gas distributors have to find new sources.” [Source:]

Natural gas distributors are “warning the scheme could result in higher costs for their customers in Ontario and Quebec,” and are accusing TransCanada of “abusing its market power.” … “The concern is they harming the captive folks at the other end of the pipeline who really don’t have a whole lot of choice.” [Source:]


Much of the electricity in Canada today is generated by natural gas. Consider the 40 MW gas-fired in North Bay, Ontario (the contract for the supply of natural gas they are to receive expires in 2017).

By using more electricity from plants powered by natural gas, Ontario has been able to work towards freeing ourselves from coal (a tar sands pipeline of this size will result in emissions equal to that of 51 coal-fired power plants and emit at least 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents each year).


Clink on this link to sign  — “Say No To a Dirty Oil Pipeline Through Northern Ontario!”

Goal is 2000 signatures. As of 6:00 PM Monday, August 26, 234 more signers were needed


Click here


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog, Citizen Action Monitor, may contain copyrighted material that may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I claim no ownership of such materials. Such material, published without profit, is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues. It is published in accordance with the provisions of the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada ruling and its six principle criteria for evaluating fair dealing.

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