FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2015
WINNIPEG – 350.org, Council of Canadians – Winnipeg Chapter, and Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition (MEJC) denounced Premier Selinger’s decision to sign — along with the other Canadian premiers — an agreement that fails to recognize that pipelines and climate leadership don’t mix. The agreement fails to acknowledge the importance of absolute emission reductions and and the need to stop expanding oil infrastructure in Canada.
“Selinger and all of Canada’s Premiers are creating ill-conceived policy,” said Alex Paterson of MEJC. “At this stage in the battle against climate change, incrementalism is not only bad public policy; it is foolhardy. This agreement was an opportunity to say ‘No’ to the proposed Energy East pipeline that threatens Manitoba. Manitobans want to have confidence that Premier Selinger’s climate policies have substance, but to date there no evidence to show us that.”
At the March 2015 leadership convention, Premier Selinger’s party gave him a mandate to demand the National Energy Board’s review of Energy East include the full climate impacts of the tar sands; but government has yet to move on this mandate. The MEJC is concerned that this government is not equipped to lead Manitoba through the perils of a changing climate, to stand up to the fossil fuel industry, or to represent the will of Manitobans.
MEJC and 350.org are denouncing the Canadian Energy Strategy put forward by the Premiers as a step backwards for Canada, Indigenous Peoples, and the climate.
Clayton Thomas-Muller, climate campaigner for 350.org, said the Canadian Energy Strategy pays lip service to climate change and to the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and pointed out that provincial leadership is making the issues worse by ignoring the scientific fact that at least 75% of Canada’s fossil fuel reserves have to stay in the ground.
“Instead of specific commitments on how the provinces plan to address climate change and the marginalization of Canada’s First Peoples, they are set on creating more oil infrastructure that will hard-wire Canada and First Nations to a dirty energy economy for another 50 years,” said Thomas-Muller. “They are in violation of their own laws by not consulting with First Nations on the policy, whose lands and waters will be hit first by the impacts of ruptured pipelines, expansion of the tar sands and rampant climate change.”
“The impacts of climate change are becoming more visible, and can be seen across the country with the increase in extreme weather, forest fires, flooding and droughts,” said Mary Robinson, chair of the Winnipeg Chapter of Council of Canadians. “This affects the health and safety of everyone, yet the strategy presented to us today seems comfortable ignoring the issue and taking us further down the path of an unsustainable future while padding the pockets of Manitoba Hydro and the oil companies.”
MEJC and its allies are specifically concerned with the potential this strategy poses to opening the door to fast track TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline. The pipeline would run within a spill reach of two surface aquifers and the entire length of the Winnipeg aqueduct, and would pass only a few kilometres from Shoal Lake. This is detailed in MEJC’s technical report, which the Premier and all Manitoba MLAs have received but failed to adequately respond to.
“The risks of the Energy East pipeline need to be reviewed in-depth by all regulatory bodies in Manitoba, especially because of the direct danger it would pose to the drinking water supply of the entire city of Winnipeg,” said Paterson. “It is a complete abandonment of government’s duty to protect the public if the government lets this pipeline go near Shoal Lake or the aqueduct.”
According to MEJC Manitoba Hydro stands to benefit from powering TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline and Enbridge’s line 9 if they are approved. They stand to profit more if they can convince other provinces to agree to east-west hydro transmission lines – some of which could be built to power the world’s dirtiest oil in the tar sands. The Manitoba government, through TomorrowNow, Manitoba’s Green Plan and the crown corporation, position themselves as protectors of the environment; yet in this case, they would be profiting heavily off the production of fossil fuels.
For more information contact:
Clayton Thomas-Muller, Campaigner with 350.org, 613-297-7515
Mary Robinson, Chair of the Winnipeg Chapter of Council of Canadians, 204-803-5416.
Alex Paterson, community organizer with Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, 204-298-2250.