Sackville councillors hear student pitch against Energy East pipeline

Claire Neufeld and Will Balser outside Council Chamber

Claire Neufeld and Will Balser outside Council Chamber

Environmental studies students from Mount Allison University attempted to persuade Sackville Town Council Monday night to oppose construction of the Energy East pipeline.

The students are conducting their campaign against the pipeline as part of an environmental activism course taught by Professor Brad Walters.

If it eventually wins federal approval, the proposed pipeline would carry 1.1 million barrels of bitumen per day from the Alberta tar sands to an Irving Oil terminal in Saint John.

“The Energy East pipeline will lead to a 40 per cent increase in tar sands production directly contributing to climate change, which as we all know here in Sackville, contributes directly to increased storm surge and more frequent flooding,” student Will Balser told council.

He noted that last April, council adopted an adaptation plan in recognition of the town’s vulnerability to the effects of climate change and that council has also been active in promoting environmental sustainability as one of its main goals.

Show leadership

Balser asked councillors to pass a motion opposing construction of the Energy East pipeline.

“This is a real chance for Sackville to show leadership and set a precedent among municipalities in New Brunswick and in Canada,” he said.

Earlier, fellow student Claire Neufeld told council the $15 billion that would be spent on the pipeline could be better spent on alternative energy projects that create more jobs.

When Mayor Higham suggested that the tax on carbon proposed by the federal government could change the economics of the pipeline project, Balser responded that the students campaigning against the pipeline don’t want to make Energy East economically viable.

He added that the pipeline would not be environmentally viable since leaks could threaten drinking water and expose Canadians to the toxic chemicals that are added so that bitumen will flow freely.

When the mayor noted that the CN Rail line passes through Sackville and expressed concern that railways could be required to carry the oil if the pipeline isn’t built, Balser suggested that increased tar sands production would not happen without Energy East.

“Under our current rail system, there is no way to move that much oil,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how much you invest in rail, there will be no way to move this much oil.”

No-brainer

For his part, Councillor Bill Evans expressed strong support for the students.

“This to me is a no-brainer,” he said adding that we’re doomed if we consume the known tar sands reserves.

“We have to cut back on our consumption of oil now, we need to encourage the use of renewables, this is what we have to start doing. Anything that we do that is not consistent with that is stupid, wrong, irrational,” Evans said.

He promised to consult with his colleagues on council before moving a motion opposing Energy East.

“Spending $15 billion on something that you shouldn’t be doing is just a dumb thing to do,” he said.

The students, who are part of a seven-member group called Sackville, No Energy East, plan to attend council’s regular meeting next Monday to see if councillors pass a motion to oppose Energy East.

For earlier coverage, click here.

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3 Responses to Sackville councillors hear student pitch against Energy East pipeline

  1. Percy Best says:

    Nothing like opposing something that the Irving Empire is, in all probability, demanding that Fredericton back 100%. Sackville will be shuffled to one side even more than it has been if we tell Fredericton and the EMPIRE that our stand is the exact opposite of what their stand is. Be a wise council and stay the heck out of it.

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  2. J Ezra Hicks says:

    I agree with Councillor Evans and the students who presented. It is a no brainer. This issue is like beating a dead horse. Oil has to go and money has to be spent on affordable renewable energy sources. Money spent on wind power and tidal power and solar is where we need to invest. We as a community and as a region could be a leader in alternative energy sources. Actually that is the wrong word! There is nothing ‘ alternative’ about it…it is simply realistic and future thinking and is the only option worth considering…it is doing the right thing. I applaud the students for bringing this issue forward to Council and I hope Council moves progressively on this one!

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  3. Casey Cartwheels says:

    HYPOCRACY abundance with a deplorable lack of “intelligence” being demonstrated on every level. Rail disasters are by far the most devastating and catastrophic, but they’re run, controlled and managed by billionaires. Eco-activists need to find a more realistic cause, renewables are notoriously UNRELIABLE…and sadly NB has fields and fields of potential for economic growth by participating in the responsible, exploration, development and production of oil and natural gas – you eastern hypocrits could stop importing foreign oil to burn in those nasty furnaces that produce toxic air pollution —- far far worse than burning natural gas to heat your homes in the winter. Please for god sake stop jumping on the anti-fossil fuel band wagon when you are so ill informed.

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