A sinking feeling – Thinking of Energy East


by Chris Turnbull

It has been several months since Mayor Gordon led the motion for the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville to sign a letter of support for Energy East (TransCanada) and several months since Chris Weissflog spoke at the Committee of the Whole on behalf of Sustainable North Grenville and other community members. Chris’s presentation demonstrated how long the Energy East pipeline has been before Council (2013), requested neutrality from Council until there were sufficient facts and effects of a potential pipeline, as per Council’s own Resolution, and requested that the Mayor withdraw his motion at the UCLG.

It was disappointing to attend that Committee of the Whole meeting and realize ranks had closed; according to the CAO, residents had misunderstood the Resolution’s meaning. By extension, this dismissed the issues of Municipal neutrality, conflict of interest, and acknowledgement of community interest. No apology was issued, despite the Mayor’s conflict of interest in this matter.

It seems somewhat as if the issue of the pipeline is a bit of a bugaboo that Council would rather side-step or, more simply, just not have it brought up again. In the absence of any information from Council, their role as Intervener, and what they might say on behalf of our community, is unclear. Yet, here is plenty of research to support the risk that an Energy East pipeline would present to North Grenville. A recent (September, 2016) technical report by Savaria, commissioned by the Council of Canadians and Ecology Ottawa, offers clear, scientific information directly related TransCanada’s claims about pipeline leaks and monitoring, aquifer contamination, and wetland/ecosystem effects.

Chris Weissflog’s recent articles, addressing not only the potential Energy East Pipeline and its negative effects on North Grenville, were there to be a dilbit leak into our aquifers, but the wider implications of continued fossil fuel investment and climate change facts, have been excellent and educational. Transparency and communication at the leadership level, good scientific measurement and data, and the ability to analyse and gather solid information in the face of superficial information that misleads rather than informs, are also components of his articles.

Chris writes on behalf of Sustainable North Grenville, demonstrating expertise from a range of community members who are actively thinking about community, climate change, and economic and social efficiencies in this changing political and environmental era. These articles take effort to write. It takes effort to address a Council unwilling to share information and members who are defensive when asked or challenged — who close ranks. It takes effort to touch base with our community in this way, also — where do residents stand in terms of the pipeline and the larger issues that the articles pinpoint? As a community, we need to acknowledge and deal with the fundamental issues that could irreversably affect us, the ecologies that support us and the species we live among.

The potential Energy East Pipeline needs to be discussed in a clear, considered, and well communicated way; we cannot rely on TransCanada, and their assurances and reassurances, to guide us. As a community, we need an indication that Council as a group is aware of the issues, has shaped some plans, and is prepared to, on behalf of residents, critically question TransCanada’s claims. Council has communicated nothing with respect to what is guiding their decision making, other than that TransCanada has been in touch. They need to open up.

A few questions: What information, particular to this region, has TransCanada supplied Council? Environmental assessments, crisis planning, potable water estimates, costs?
What information has Council gathered, independently of TransCanada? Is Council willing/able to strike a committee for Energy East, or communicate with residents before the NEB hearings?

Has Council reached out to Anishinaabeg (among which, Algonquin) or Haudenosaunee (Mohawk) nations, other Municipalities, and community groups to share knowledge and evidence? What information between groups could be shared? If the potential Energy East Pipeline were approved, what kinds of contingency plans (in case of dilbit leak) have Council devised?

Your voice is important. Pipelines do leak. We drink the water and exist on the land that the pipeline would run through. This is an issue that merits working together and sharing information. Perhaps our Council members don’t realize that the Energy East Pipeline is an issue of concern to many in our community. Let them know your thoughts — they are your representatives.

Sustainable North Grenville can be contacted via their website, if you have knowledge or additional information regarding the Energy East Pipeline.  www.sustainablenorthgrenville.ca.


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