Energy East pipeline proposal meets opposition in Winnipeg
Citizens' groups demand review of proposed pipeline's environmental, social impacts
Several groups in Manitoba voiced opposition Monday to TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline, which would transport crude through the province en route to eastern Canada.
TransCanada executives were in Winnipeg for an information session with 20 Manitoba First Nations delegates.
They were met by a group of protesters Monday at the Delta Hotel.
The protesters were angry First Nations leaders were even talking with TransCanada about the proposed pipeline amid concerns about water quality and climate change.
The CBC's Kiran Dhillon reported protesters were not allowed inside the meeting.
The citizens' groups called on the National Energy Board to include a full audit of climate change impacts in its review of the proposed project, which would see a 4,600-kilometre pipeline snake eastward across the prairies.
If approved, the $12-billion pipeline project would carry 1.1-million barrels of oilsands crude per day from Alberta through six provinces, including Manitoba, to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick.
TransCanada formally applied for federal government approval for Energy East with the National Energy Board earlier this fall.
There is growing environmental opposition in Ontario and Quebec to the plan.
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Grand Chief Terry Nelson, part of the Southern Chiefs Organization, said First Nations aren't taking sides on the pipeline.
"If you never sit down with the companies, how do you get the information?" he said.
TransCanada maintains the project could bring thousands of jobs to First Nations people across the country. TransCanada has also said that since its plans would repurpose an old gas line for the Manitoba portion, little new infrastructure would be needed in the province.
Concerns over safety of project
But the Manitoba groups protesting Monday, which include the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, the Council of Canadians, Idle No More, Kairos, the University of Winnipeg Students Association and the Wilderness Committee, aren't convinced of the project's impact or safety.
They are urging the National Energy Board to consider the environmental and social effects of the proposed pipeline.
"I can't keep holding out hope that our governments are taking climate change seriously," Alex Paterson, a spokesperson for Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, stated in a news release.
"If we fully develop the tar sands this century, we go over our carbon budget. If the NEB won't consider this, how can I believe they are conducting a legitimate review?"
Two-thirds of the TransCanada pipeline is already in the ground carrying natural gas from Alberta to Ontario. The Energy East plan would convert it to carry oilsands bitumen and then build a new section of pipeline into Quebec and New Brunswick.