The National Energy Board

2015 09 15 dc fire trees

We don’t impose zero tolerance for accidents in industries such as airlines, health, or construction, even though awful and avoidable things happen. We don’t have zero tolerance for bad individual behavior that causes harm, like drinking and driving or forest fires sparked by carelessly disposed cigarettes. We certainly don’t hold ourselves to such a high standard.

But when it comes to pipelines and oil spills, safety expectations are off the charts.

Take a look at how the Energy East pipeline proposes to run toxic diluted bitumen through a ton of vulnerable communities. For Canadians, this is definitely not a good deal.

This pipeline project proposes to endanger nearly a thousand Canadian waterways of significance.

Details of these dangers to Canada’s waterways in the wake of Harper’s dismantling of the environmental assessment process are outlined in this study. If you’re only going to read one of these links, this should probably be it.

The kind of spill that diluted bitumen from the Tar Sands creates is far more difficult to clean up than a conventional oil spill, and those are no picnic. The first such spill is still an ongoing mess after more than a billion dollars of cleanup and years of work.

The story of that spill is not very reassuring for anyone in Canada whose water supply might be impacted by Energy East.

The Ontario Energy Board, which looked at the impact of potential spills on our waterways, concluded that the pipeline is definitely not worth the risk. Of course, Stephen Harper’s office didn’t get to personally pick who sits on that board.

Here’s a great two minute video about some of the reasonable concerns people have with the Energy East pipeline project.

If we want to have a future with a livable climate in it, we need to keep the Tar Sands in the ground. I know that statement is uncomfortable for people profiting from it, but it’s what the science tells us, and I think we’ve ignored climate scientists quite long enough.

The National Energy Board not only couldn’t be bothered to consider the climate impacts of the project before green lighting it, they even refused to allow climate experts to submit testimony.

The Harper government appoints all the members of the National Energy Board, and the only people they appoint are engineers and lawyers with direct ties to the fossil fuel companies. No public safety experts, no oil spill experts, no representatives from communities to be affected by the projects, no one with a stake in it other than the industry side.

Over 300 scholars and scientists from around the world wrote an open letter to the Board that pronounced their assessment process so flawed as to be essentially “useless” in reaching any meaningful finding. In their judgment, the NEB failed to provide any explanation of how it had reached its conclusions, especially the central one, that the project’s benefits justify its risks and costs. For anyone who doubts that the NEB is basically just a rubber stamp, consider that it’s never failed to approve any energy project. Ever.

Even though Energy East increasingly looks like all danger with no reward.

Are you concerned about Energy East and other pipelines like it? Well, buckle up. Environmental groups feature ever more prominently in government legislation and language about terrorism.

So is this how they plan on dealing with concerned citizens who, for example, don’t want bitumen pipelines to threaten their local water table? By treating us as terrorists?

Only Elizabeth May and the Green Party of Canada stand on guard for Canada’s waterways and against running diluted bitumen through them. If you are concerned about your drinking water or the climate, you may want to vote Green.

The Council of Canadians has a petition online about Energy East you can sign as well.

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