Energy East & Climate Change

17 11 2014

Climate change: trump card or elephant in the room?


The People’s Climate March, the largest environmental action in history, took place Sept 21 in communities across 162 nations around the world. Halifax’s march saw four hundred Nova Scotian’s conquering the streets for a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Photo Zack Metcalfe
The People’s Climate March, the largest environmental action in history, took place Sept 21 in communities across 162 nations around the world. Halifax’s march saw four hundred Nova Scotian’s conquering the streets for a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Photo Zack Metcalfe

Saddle up people, because best case scenario, it’s going to be a rough ride.

The fracking debate in Atlantic Canada is only now beginning to settle down, with Nova Scotia banning the practice and New Brunswick’s provincial government promising to follow suit, but let’s rewind a few months to when it was the subject on everyone’s minds. Why didn’t we want fracking?

The answer most often given was water security. Yes, hydraulic fracturing would seriously damage groundwater and make sick the people who depend on it, but there’s a much more serious issue raised by fracking which, for some reason, didn’t carry much weight. Even the panel of experts, hired by Nova Scotia’s provincial government to review the impacts of fracking, didn’t discuss it.

The issue I’m referring to is climate change.

A few weeks ago the Energy East oil pipeline was formally proposed by TransCanada. If built, it will carry 1.1 million barrels of Alberta’s crude oil to Atlantic Canada for refinement and overseas shipping, allowing the Canadian Tar Sands to expand an estimated 40 per cent. The Tar Sands already accounted for 6.8 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2010.

Of course there’s a powerful resistance building to Energy East, but if asked, what are folks most afraid of? Oil spills, in any of the countless communities, streams and forests this pipeline will be cutting through to make its cross-Canada journey. Taking a back seat in the debate, yet again, is climate change.

Whether we’re talking about oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence, on the Scotian Shelf, on Anticosti Island or the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, climate change is always the most muted argument. Why are oil spills more provocative than the end of the world?

This isn’t to say climate change isn’t on environmentalists’ minds. Too often, however, this argument is dismissed out of hand, as though climate change is more a slogan than a reality, a mere talking point, not the greatest threat humanity has ever faced, an ideological goal, not a global necessity. There’s an unspoken agreement in this country that we’ve given up on combating climate change…and it needs to stop.

Two weeks ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has in its ranks hundreds of the world’s leading scientists, economists, engineers, social scientists and even philosophers, released their fifth and most frightening report to date.

These, the smartest people on Earth, have declared the next ten years to be the most important in human history.

Without immediate and decisive action on a global scale to reduce CO2 emissions, we’ll be faced with vanishing coastlines, loss of water and food security, storms and intense rainfalls and droughts and heat waves unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Prince Edward Island will become the Prince Edward Islands, if not vanish from our maps altogether.

The report says we need to reduce carbon emissions by 40-70 per cent by 2050 and in fact be in the negatives by 2100, by way of reforestation or carbon capture. It says 35 per cent of global CO2 emissions are coming from the energy sector, the largest single contributor. It says 90 per cent of our planet’s warming thus far has taken place in the oceans, devastating marine ecosystems. It says if we want to avoid two degrees Celsius of global warming, the point of no return, then we have a lot of work to do this decade.

We’ve known the urgency for a while now. What we may not have known is how important a role Atlantic Canada can play in saving the world. Oil and gas development is descending on Eastern Canada like a hydrocarbon hungry demon. We’re the next fossil fuel frontier of this nation, a nation which has fallen short of every carbon commitment it’s ever made…a nation among the largest polluters on Earth.

Fracking has lost ground in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, but it’s being proposed for Anticosti Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Offshore drilling on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland is looking to expand dramatically and we will see drilling on Nova Scotia’s east coast as early as next summer. There will be a test well drilled in the Gulf of St Lawrence by 2016 if that project gets the green light and of course there’s Energy East, delivering Alberta’s tar to the St Lawrence Estuary and the Bay of Fundy. The threat these projects pose to our climate is impossible to quantify.

Too often our political and industrial representatives get away with saying, “we will develop our oil and gas resources in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner,” a statement so far outside reality I’m left with one of two conclusions. Either we are being deliberately misled, or more frightening, our leaders feel comfortable omitting climate change from statements like this.

Climate change is an immediate and enormous threat to Canadian and global prosperity…and more than most nations on Earth, we are in a position to do something about it.

Every litre of oil removed from the ground is the proceeds of an environmental crime…and every litre left untouched is a blessing. If the political will doesn’t exist to halt oil and gas development in Atlantic Canada, the public will must.

Climate change should be the trump card against all oil and gas development in this region, not the elephant in the room.

Join the campaign to keep the blue whale swimming in our Gulf!

Sierra Club Canada Foundation – Atlantic Canada Chapter

1649 Barrington St., 2nd Floor (The Hub)

Halifax, Nova Scotia   CANADA
B3J 1Z9
Tel.: 902-444-3113

Stop Energy East Photos from Megan Leslie Action 11-14-14

15 11 2014

Members of Stop Energy East Pipeline Halifax present hundreds of cards from area constituents to NDP MP Megan Leslie opposing the NDP’s claim to be “leaders on climate change” while they also promote the Energy East Pipeline.
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30 10 2014

Proposed pipeline would contribute more to climate change than the whole province of NS 

Halifax, Nova Scotia – Today as TransCanada files its application for the Energy East pipeline with the National Energy Board, opposition to the project across Atlantic Canada continues to grow. Stop Energy East Halifax, a group of Haligonians organizing to fight the Energy East Pipeline, call the proposal a “climate nightmare” and a major threat to the Bay of Fundy and Maritime communities.

“Not only is the Energy East pipeline slated to emit as many greenhouse gas emissions as Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador combined, but it would lock us into decades of tar sands expansion and reckless dependence on fossil fuels.” says Kiki Wood, a member of Stop Energy East Halifax. “We cannot allow this pipeline to be built if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change.”

Stop Energy East Halifax says TransCanada’s promises of jobs for Atlantic Canadians are overstated, as at least 90 per cent of the oil would be exported due to Canada’s low refining capacity and a lack of commitment from refineries like Irving’s to refine the bitumen domestically.

“Across North America, communities have been saying ‘no’ to pipelines. People have come together to reject Keystone XL and Line 9. Out west they have rejected Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan, and today we are rejecting Energy East,” says Emma Norton, also of Stop Energy East Halifax. “The few permanent jobs that TransCanada is promising are not worth it. We all deserve better than anything this pipeline can offer.”

Communities across Canada are already resisting the pipeline. In Quebec, the provincial government stopped TransCanada from doing seismic testing related to the pipeline to prevent harming the local endangered beluga population – a move that was supported by 38,000 Quebeckers. In Kenora, Ontario, indigenous groups and allies slammed TransCanada at an open house and called instead for renewable energy development. Today in Saint John, NB, dozens of residents will gather at a TransCanada open house to share information about impacts the pipeline will have on their health, local economy, and the global climate.

If built, TransCanada’s proposed pipeline would be the largest in North America. It would carry 1.1 million barrels of oil per day over 4400 km to port in Saint John, NB. The project would facilitate a 40% expansion of the Alberta tar sands and increase national greenhouse gas emissions by 32 million tonnes. This greenhouse gas measure does not include the emissions that would come from the eventual burning of the oil.

Metro Housing Halifax Ignores Roaches, Bedbugs

4 09 2014

Metro Housing tenants tired of cockroaches and bedbugs


Dartmouth tenants, tired of cockroaches and bedbugs, rally at Community Services minister Joanne Bernard's constituency office in Dartmouth. Photo Robert Devet
Dartmouth tenants, tired of cockroaches and bedbugs, rally at Community Services minister Joanne Bernard’s constituency office in Dartmouth. Photo Robert Devet
A petition signed by most tenants calls for an immediate and fundamental solution to a problem that has festered for years. Photo Robert Devet
A petition signed by most tenants calls for an immediate and fundamental solution to a problem that has festered for years. Photo Robert Devet

“We are the tenants of 101 Nova Court and we are very tired and fed up with the living conditions in here. There are bed bugs and roaches in here. They’re in the hallways and most of the apartments.”

“It’s not fair that we have to live under these circumstances. It takes a lot of energy to try our best to keep our houses clean and having to live like this creates many health concerns (stress, anxiety, panic attacks, and a lot of emotional stress).”

“There are children and infants that shouldn’t have to live like this. There are parents that cry because their children deserve better living conditions.”


K’JIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) – Those are quotes from a petition signed by most of the tenants of a Dartmouth building managed by the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority.

Metro Housing is part of the Department of Community Services and provides affordable rental housing to seniors and families with low or fixed incomes.

The tenants of 101 Nova Court want Metro Housing to get serious about the bug infestations that are making their lives so miserable.

42 out of the 60 tenants signed the petition.

How bad the situation really is was made clear in a report by CTV that aired last week. The two-minute segment focused on a cockroach infestation so awful that it chased tenants out of their apartments.

The video starts with a warning that some of the images “are quite unpleasant to see.”

On Tuesday, September 2nd, tenants and members of ACORN Nova Scotia gathered outside Joanne Bernard’s constituency office on Wyse Road in Dartmouth. Frustrated and feeling ignored by Metro Housing, they are looking for somebody who will listen.

Bernard is the Minister of Community Services, and she is also the MLA for the tenants of Nova Court.

“I’d like them to come in and spray and clean everything, not just when somebody complains,” Deryl MacDonald, single parent and a tenant of 101 Nova Court tells reporters at the rally. “You spray one room and the bugs are just going to back up and move to another room. There are holes and crevices in the walls.”

ACORN Nova Scotia, the local chapter of a national anti-poverty organization, supports the tenants in their efforts.

“Some of the people of Nova Court came to the regular meetings we have here, and they told us how they are tired of cockroaches and of being ignored,” explains ACORN spokesperson Jonethan Brigley. “So we said we’d help them getting their message across.”

“All the credit goes to the tenants who organized the petition. We’re here today just to help these guys push this forward and get it noted that bedbugs and roaches are not ok and need attention,” Brigley says.

“Metro Housing is always saying that they’re going to do something about it, but if we followed their advise we’d be waiting for many years,” he says.

When it came time to arrange a meeting with Bernard, the delegation of tenants found the doors of Bernard’s constituency office locked.

Bernard is not apologetic. “If a consituency assistant doesn’t feel safe she has that prerogative,” she tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

“Most constituency offices in urban areas have a security system, everybody is buzzed in after a visual contact. We installed it three months ago at the suggestion of the Speaker’s Office. We’ve had altercations and we’ve had to call police,” Bernard adds.

But she is more than willing to meet with any resident of her district, she says.

Bernard says that since she became a MLA in the last election, her office only received one bug-related complaint from 101 Nova Court. That issue was resolved.

The petition signed by 80 percent of the tenants may not have been on her radar, but Metro Housing certainly knew about it.

“Tenants submitted the petition and met with Metro Housing on August 19th. What came out of that is that they were going to fumigate the common areas and clean out the garbage chutes,” Shay Enxuga of ACORN Nova Scotia tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

“But tenants in the building feel that is simply not enough,” Enxuga adds. “That’s what we are trying to bring to Bernard’s attention.”

“What I do not think is fair is Bernard saying that she doesn’t know about the issue. She is the Minister responsible for Metro Housing and this issue has been going on for years,” Enxuga says.

ACORN Nova Scotia will meet each Tuesday in September at the Dartmouth North Community Centre, 105 Highfield Park Drive between 6 PM and 8 PM. The September 23rd meeting will focus on establishing a Dartmouth North chapter of ACORN Nova Scotia.

See also:

Lively community meeting tackles landlord licensing and rent control

Landlords from hell and rodents for roommates

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert