Energy East is the largest tar sands pipeline ever proposed. It would facilitate an additional 650,000 to 750,000 barrels per day of tar sands production. This would mean up to 32 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year, the same as adding 7 million new cars to Canadian roads and a larger footprint than the entire province of Nova Scotia.
A recent plunge in oil prices as been driving a steady stream of commentary from leading economic voices across the spectrum in Canada calling for everything from outright panic to 'stay the course'. With oil hovering just north of $80 per barrel, many are starting to question the future of pipelines, tar sands and other resource intensive extractive projects.
Foreign markets are buying up our resources, corporations are getting rich, and average Canadians are taking on all the risk. Unfortunately, Canada has a poor record of enforcement against oil companies, and prosecutes less than one per cent of environmental violations in the oil sands. Because of changes to the NEB Act last year, Canadians must do tremendous paperwork to have their voices heard, but some are fighting back.
"Here," said a Heiltsuk friend as we began the walk, "put this in your pocket, it will help protect you." She handed me a piece of dried Devil's club bark, medicine from the B.C. coastal rainforest to carry with me as we walked by Alberta's tar sands facilities. Strong medicine was definitely in order as my lungs hurt, heart ached, and eyes welled up with tears with all that I witnessed.