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Canada Cannot Export Its Responsibility To The Environment

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In a La Presse article entitled "La quadrature du cercle" (literally, "making a square circle"), Pierre Asselin asks the essential question about the projected Energy East pipeline: "How can we reconcile the idea of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) while increasing the production of tar sands?"

Indeed, how can one reconcile this intrinsic contradiction of TransCanada's public relations campaign with plain common sense?

The petroleum industry is a chain composed of many links. Its first link is the financial institutions -- banks, including the stock exchange, are essential since the production of petroleum is extremely expensive. Ecologists who demand that churches, universities and citizens should divest their savings in the fossil fuels have realized that dried-up sources of finances can cripple the industry, thereby boosting the drive towards renewable energies.

Even the Rockefeller family, whose ancestor laid the foundations of the petroleum industry in the 19th century, understands that times are changing. They divested $50 billion from the petroleum industry in order to re-invest in greener pastures.

The second link are the companies that drill wells -- others, such as Suncor or Syncrude, produce petroleum from the tar sands. Their importance to the industry is self-evident.

To bring the petroleum from the point of production to the consumer, you need the third link -- transportation, whether it be by truck, by train, by pipeline or by tanker ship. Even though they are an indispensable link between producers and consumers, TransCanada's CEO, Mr. Girling, and Mr. Bergeron (VP for Quebec et NB) are arguing that they are just a pipe; therefore, according to them, they don't produce any GHG. They claim that they have no responsibility for all the GHG produced by this unconventional petroleum.

For argument's sake, let's suppose that we get rid of all "bomb" trains and all pipelines (Northern Gateway, Trans-Mountain, Enbridge's line 9B, Energy East, etc.). Would the tar sands of Alberta continue to produce petroleum? No transportation means no production! And no production means no buyers, no consumers! Therefore, no GHG!

And Quebec's spineless ministry of the environment (MDDELCC) accepts that TransCanada can dictate the unacceptable idea that the BAPE (Quebec's bureau of environmental hearings) must not evaluate the GHG produced at both ends of the 4,600-kilometre pipeline.

Each link of the petroleum industry is indispensable; one cannot turn a blind eye to the total footprint of this industry. That is also the legal argument of the CQDE (Centre Québécois du Droit en Environnement).

Since Energy East is fundamentally a tool to export dilbit overseas, one must also add the GHG produced by the tanker ships. As for the refineries, whether they are situated in St. John (NB), in Europe, in China or India, this fourth link will produce GHG that will pollute the atmosphere of the planet.

Once in the air, this CO2 will enhance the mechanism of global warming. This is also true of the final link, the foreign consumers of this Canadian petroleum. In other words, we are exporting not only dilbit, but also all the GHG that they produce. However, the atmosphere and global warming know no boundaries!

Energy East is more than a mere pipe that transports the product from point A to point B. It is an essential link of the industry.

The Conference of Paris acknowledged that we must drastically reduce our production of CO2. Everyone will understand that the GHG produced by each link must be added to the final tally. Unless someone willingly turns a blind eye to these facts, it is clear that Energy East is co-responsible for all the GHG produced by the 1,100,000 barrels that will travel through this pipeline on a daily basis.

Even though TransCanada is desperately trying to refute its responsibility about these GHG, the people of this country know better. They won't let anyone pull the wool over their eyes and they will not be persuaded to accept TransCanada's propaganda that this company is not responsible for those GHG!

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