A group of students at Mount Allison University say they’re hopeful Sackville Town councillors will formally oppose construction of the Energy East pipeline at their next meeting on Monday, December 12th.
The students, who are enrolled in an environmental activism class taught by Professor Brad Walters, attended last night’s council meeting to hear Councillor Bill Evans discuss his draft motion on the pipeline. It calls on the federal government to “protect the health and safety of our communities by denying approval for the Energy East pipeline.”
Evans promised to come up with such a motion and discuss it with his council colleagues after the students’ group, Sackville No Energy East, made their case against the pipeline during council’s regular meeting on November 7th.
If it eventually wins federal approval, the proposed pipeline would carry up to 1.1 million barrels of bitumen per day from the Alberta tar sands to an Irving Oil terminal in Saint John.
Pipelines and climate change
During last night’s meeting, Councillor Evans acknowledged that his motion is symbolic and that pipeline approval is a federal matter, but he added it’s still worth opposing Energy East.
” I think it’s important to show leadership in matters like this,” Evans said. “Global climate change can be catastrophic, it’s going to affect all of us. We can’t argue that it’s not a municipal matter if it’s going to affect all of us.”
Evans’s draft motion states that “the extraction and burning of fossil fuels exacerbates” the threat of climate change.
Councillor Michael Tower said that while he favours bringing the motion forward at the next council meeting, he’d like to see what he called “more meat behind it.”
He explained, for example, that the motion could oppose the pipeline unless the federal government meets strict conditions such as getting the agreement of First Nations people.
“I think we should have a bit more in there so that the government has a chance to look at it…and say well, ‘OK, how do we answer this?’ instead of just saying ‘Oh that’s Sackville being anti-business,'” Tower said.
For her part, Deputy Mayor Joyce O’Neil noted that council had heard from the students, but she wondered if it would also be hearing from pipeline supporters.
CAO Phil Handrahan replied he hadn’t received any calls from anyone wanting to make a presentation.
Councillor Evans said that Energy East, the federal government and other wealthy, powerful people already have “an ample microphone” to make their case for the pipeline. He said his motion is an attempt to counteract that.
“I don’t think we need to give equal time to them,” he added, “they sure as hell didn’t give equal time to us.”