Thunder Bay

Energy East pipeline changes won't be enough for opposing group

One of the main groups opposing the proposed Energy East pipeline says city councillors in Thunder Bay are mistaken if they believe there will be any major changes to the project.

Activist argues proposal is 'flawed' but councillor says it's too early to jump to conclusions

Some northern Ontario leaders worry their voices will be drowned out as the debate over the Energy East pipeline becomes more about national unity. (CBC)

One of the main groups opposing the proposed Energy East pipeline said city councillors in Thunder Bay are mistaken if they believe there will be any major changes to the project. 

On Monday night, councillors chose to delay their decision on whether to back the project until after the National Energy Board reviews the proposal. 

Peter Lang of Citizens United for a Sustainable Planet told CBC News any tweaks made to the proposal won't be enough to garner his support. 

"The basic proposal itself is flawed," Lang said. "To send a million-point-one barrels per day through an old pipe through the watershed of northern Ontario is only going to be tweaked."

Coun. Iain Angus said there's no reason to jump to conclusions on the project because it will be months before key decisions are made at the national level. 

"Is it appropriate for us to, as a council, to make a decision which has long lasting consequences, without knowing exactly what the final application will look like?" Angus asked. 

He added TransCanada — the company behind the project — is clearly still open to significant modifications because they've shown the ability to adapt in the past. 

"We made the case that before the application is complete, they should have the emergency response plans already developed with each community. They're clearly in the process of doing that, so we've been able to make some progress already."

Angus is part of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association, which appears to be backing the project if six to eight certain conditions are met. 

Whether Thunder Bay officials support the pipeline or not, Lang said he's pleased approximately 130 people showed up at city hall to raise concerns about the proposal before council made a decision. 

"The issue would have been virtually dormant. And, nobody would have heard anything, so I think we've achieved something by making sure people heard, and are thinking about the issue." 

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