Pipelines this week--Feb 2 Edition

February is the month of love. In light of that, perhaps it is best to think of pipelines as being like STDs. They’re out there. You can get them. But in the end it’s best to do everything you can to keep them away. So let’s keep the love for our world strong by keeping the pipelines away (and the STDs too).

And in the fight to keep those pipelines away, it’s been another BIG week centred on everyone’s least favourite regulatory board: the National Energy Board (NEB).

The NEB’s mandate is to regulate and oversee pipeline construction and operation. As many have known for a long time now, they’re pretty bad at this. Confirmation of this ineptitude came this past week courtesy of a federal government audit, which slammed the NEB’s attention to potential pipeline safety issues as well as their follow-up on reported safety-issues. Among other things, the report found that the NEB:

- Did not properly track and document pipeline approval conditions on 24 out of 49 cases that the report examined. 
- Did not follow up with companies in 22 out of 49 cases where leaks or corrosion of pipelines had been reported

This is all more than a little scary given that the NEB regulates 73,000 km of pipelines throughout Canada. Even scarier? The NEB has approved 98% of all pipeline projects.

The Tyee has more of the scary details on the audit of the NEB here

And this article on the “Ticking Time Bomb” that is Line 9 makes a whole lot of (infuriating) sense in the light of these revelations about the utter sham that is the NEB regulatory process. This is all the more reason to give your support to the Chippewas on the Thames First Nation in their Supreme Court fight against Line 9. And stay tuned for info on a Toronto350 fundraiser in support of their legal costs.

The other big news of the week is the federal government’s introduction of a new interim environmental assessment process for new pipeline proposals that will be used in addition to the NEB process as they try to overhaul the sham NEB. This interim process will also be used for the already-in-motion Kinder Morgan review and the soon-to-restart Energy East review. It has five components:

1. No project proponent will be asked to return to the starting line — project reviews will continue within the current legislative framework and in accordance with treaty provisions, under the auspices of relevant responsible authorities and Northern regulatory boards; 
2. Decisions will be based on science, traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples and other relevant evidence;
3. The views of the public and affected communities will be sought and considered;
4. Indigenous peoples will be meaningfully consulted, and where appropriate, impacts on their rights and interests will be accommodated; and
5. Direct and upstream greenhouse gas emissions linked to the projects under review will be assessed.
More on this at the CBC  

There are aspects of this new interim environmental assessment process that are positive steps in the right direction – the federal government finally committing to factor in climate change, consult and respect First Nations, and listen to the general public. The problem? It’s not enough. Not nearly enough.

The voices being raised from First Nations leaders, from municipal leaders, from activists, and from communities is that new pipelines – any new pipelines – are just not worth the environmental risk to frontline communities or the risk of catastrophic climate change to all communities. Two such samplings: 

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the B.C. Indian Chiefs had this to say
“In regard to the threats that are represented by heavy-oil pipelines proposals, the inherent risks to the environment – to the rivers, streams and eco-systems – are just so great that sometimes No is the only answer…This is at the point in the history of this planet that we need to undertake that paradigm shift to other forms of energy – solar power, wind power and other means. We can’t just simply continue this obsession with such developments as the tar sands.” 

David Suzuki said this: 
“I joined millions of Canadians who felt an oppressive weight had lifted and cheered mightily to hear that our country committed to keeping emissions at levels that would ensure the world doesn't heat by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. With the global average temperature already one degree higher than pre-industrial levels, a half a degree more leaves no room for business as usual…In light of this, I don't get the current brouhaha over Kinder Morgan, Keystone XL, Northern Gateway or the Energy East pipelines. Why are politicians contemplating spending billions on pipelines when the Paris commitment means 75 to 80 per cent of known fossil fuel deposits must be left in the ground?” 

And if you need any more convincing that our fossil fuels need to stay in the ground, check out these new projections that Canada’s Green House Gas emissions will continue to rise up to the year 2030.

We cannot commit to a safe future by limiting global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius and still keep growing our emissions in Canada. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. It is as simple as that. No Line 9. No Kinder Morgan. No Energy East.
And we need your help for that. 
Join us at Toronto350 on Tuesday evenings from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. at the Steelworkers Hall at 25 Cecil St.