THE BLOG

TransCanada Must Believe In Santa Claus

12/22/2015 05:03 EST | Updated 12/22/2016 05:12 EST
bashta via Getty Images
Oil and gas industry. Panoramic of a pumpjack and oil refinery in the winter with snow. Night view.

In a press release dated Dec. 18, TransCanada announced that "support for Energy East is growing across Canada."

Did I read that right, or is this merely a wish list that TransCanada has sent to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve? TC seems to believe that "l'acceptabilité sociale" (social acceptability) is on the rise! When a seven-year-old child sends that kind of wish list to Saint Nick, it's cute. When grown-up managers of a national corporation are mired in this kind of public relations wishful thinking, it's sad.

Just days after the COP21 conference in Paris where mankind admitted that 80 per cent of fossil fuels must remain in the ground if we want climate change to remain below two degrees Celsius, these gentlemen propose to build a pipeline which can only multiply the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) produced at both ends of this 4,600-kilometre pipe.

As the experts of IPCC have pointed out, climate change due to CO2 and other GHG must be severely curtailed if we want our planet to remain hospitable to future generations. We must reduce our dependency on fossil fuels now; we can't wait 20 years until Energy East is amortized.

As for "safety standards to protect the environment," I'll pit that statement against a list of all the spills in the world. For instance, a brand new pipeline, the property of Nexen, had a multimillion-litre spill in Alberta last year. 1,100,000 barrels per day day will transit through Energy East; that is more than 2,000 litres per second. In case of a mishap, if the valves were to shut down in a few minutes, (and that is a big "if"), that is a lot of oil on our land and in our water.

Neither can we dismiss the fact that electronic sensors are unable to detect a leak that is less than 1.5 per cent of the total flow. In other words, they are unable to flash a danger signal if a slow leak (for instance, a faulty weld) allows up to 2.6 millions litres of oil seep into the environment per 24 hour period.

Since one litre of oil will contaminate one million litres of water, this will put the water intake of numerous municipalities at risk. The Kalamazoo river in Michigan and the Lac Megantic disaster have proven that the decontamination of a river is an almost impossible task. And the possibility of a major spill in the St. Lawrence drainage basin, the Bay of Fundy, or the Gulf of Maine would put tens of thousands of workers in the fishing industry and in tourism out of work. One Gulf of Mexico is one too many.

Energy East is a winner for the stockholders of TransCanada; but it is a lose-lose situation for everyone else.

Whether in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec or New Brunswick, we have all the risk to our environment and our water supply, our established industries, but so, so few benefits. As to the "3,160 direct and indirect jobs" and "324 permanent jobs" alluded to by the Conference Board, one has to wonder if this is not a repetition of the hype about Keystone XL. The same TransCanada Corp. promised Americans 20,000 jobs; President Barack Obama said the final number was closer to 50. Quite a difference between inflated promises and reality!

Apart from a few organisations who are due to benefits from the construction of Energy East, where is its "growing support?" Did some pollster in Quebec suggest that the solid opposition to this project collapsed?

Last year, TransCanada's PR firm, Edelman, had a plan to have paid supporters who would, amongst other things, put positive comments at the bottom of articles. True, Edelman has withdrawn, but have some of its methods been adopted by the management of TransCanada?

Otherwise, the glowing progress reports of "growing support" for Energy East is nothing but a wish list letter sent to Santa Claus.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

MORE ON HUFFPOST:

Keystone XL Pipeline Report Highlights