Ontario Energy Board Energy East Consultation: Kanata discussion

OEB Energy EastBelow is a draft of the official notes of the OEB Energy East Consultation. Participant Robin Sukhu wrote an excellent article on this meeting for the Millstone. Below, you will see a draft  sent by the organizers, Swerhun Facilitation (hired by the Ontario Energy Board) to participants in the discussion. Almonte resident Ted Legg points out the following:

  • Readers might also be interested in knowing that, in our community, the Energy East Pipeline will be going over or under three Mississippi Mills waterways (The Waba, the Madawaska and the Mississippi Rivers) and through the Burntlands Alvar.
  • The pipeline is already there but it is a natural gas pipeline.  It will be converted to flow diluted bitumen.  Whereas gas leaks evaporate upwards, diluted bitumen does not – and the dilution is toxic (cancerous).
  • While pipelines may be safer than transporting oil by rail or truck and while today’s pipeline technology is quite a bit better than what was used in days gone by, public vigilance is still needed to ensure that the Energy East Pipeline is implemented safely, securely and with all due care.

Thursday January 22nd, 2015

6:00 – 9:30pm

Brookstreet Hotel

525 Legget Drive

Overview

On January 22nd, 2015 the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) hosted the sixth of seven Community Discussions in Part Two of its Energy East Consultation and Review. These Discussion featured presentations by the OEB and its technical advisors on their preliminary assessment of TransCanada’s Energy East proposal. Following the presentation, participants were asked to provide their perspectives on the most important things for the OEB to focus on in their report to Ontario’s Ministry of Energy.

Approximately 350 people attended the Kanata Community Discussion, including members of First Nations and Métis communities, representatives from the academic community, local businesses, environmental organizations, community associations, TransCanada, the oil and gas industry, public health, social justice organizations, research institutes, unions and the media. Representatives from the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada and municipal council also attended. About one-third of participants did not indicate an affiliation with any organization. The Kanata Community Discussion was also webcast, with 31 people participating online.

This summary was written by Swerhun Facilitation, a third-party facilitation firm that the OEB has hired to provide independent facilitation services for community discussions and stakeholder meetings. This summary is not intended to provide a verbatim transcript of the community discussion. It instead provides a high level overview of the perspectives and advice provided by participants during the facilitated discussion.

If you feel that the perspectives and advice shared at the community discussion have not been accurately captured in this draft summary and you have suggested edits to help improve the summary’s accuracy, please send them to Matthew Wheatley by Tuesday March 3rd, 2015 at mwheatley@swerhun.com or by phone at (416) 572-4365.

High-Level Summary of Feedback – DRAFT for Participant Review

Note points are numbered for ease of reference only.

1. Many participants at the meeting raised concerns about pipeline safety, in particular the reliability of leak detection systems and emergency response procedures.

• Several participants questioned the reliability of the leak detection system, specifically its ability to detect, what were referred to in TransCanada’s application as, slow leaks. Participants were concerned that slow leaks could go undetected and cause severe environmental impacts over a prolonged period of time.

• There were also concerns about the type of oil that would be transported through the pipeline. Participants were especially concerned about the diluents and solvents that would be used in diluted bitumen and the negative impacts this would have on waterways, the natural environment and human health should an incident occur along the pipeline. There were also questions about if and how diluent would be transported back to its place of origin.

• One participant raised concerns about the impact an earthquake would have on the integrity of the Energy East pipeline and nearby gas pipelines, noting Kanata and the surrounding area is located within two earthquake zones.

• Several participants noted that they were uncomfortable with the claims being made, by TransCanada in their proposal, about emergency response procedures, in particular the 22-minute response time. Participants questioned whether a rupture could be contained within the prescribed 22 minutes and the amount of oil that would enter the surrounding environment.

OEB Energy East Consultation and Review – Kanata Community Discussion Summary DRAFT Page 2 of 3

Participants were also worried that emergency response teams would not be aware of the kind of oil be transported at certain times and therefore would not be able to adequately respond to an incident.

• Some participants raised concerns about financial liability and TransCanada’s ability to pay the comprehensive cleanup costs, should an incident occur. One participant suggested TransCanada should be required to show letters of liability in excess of 1 billion dollars.

• A few participants said they were concerned about the selection process that would be used to retain subcontractors for pipeline construction and maintenance. They wanted to be reassured that quality and safety would not be compromised to save money.

2. Several participants shared the perspective that potential climate change impacts of TransCanada’s proposed Energy East Pipeline need to be further investigated and alternative sources of energy should be more thoroughly explored.

• Several participants agreed that both the provincial and federal government should be focusing more of their time and financial resources on investigating and developing renewable energy sources as opposed to the extraction and transportation of oil, especially crude oil.

• Some participants said they were dissatisfied with the National Energy Board’s decision to not consider climate change as a factor in assessing TransCanada’s Energy East proposal. One participant suggested that the OEB should attempt to refuse the pipeline in Ontario.

• One participant recommended that climate change analysis should be included in the OEB’s report to the Minster of Energy and specifically address how identified impacts would affect Ontario and Canada’s ability to meet 2020 targets.

• A few participants questioned the reliability of the climate change analysis that was conducted by the OEB’s technical advisor and suggested the OEB should consider analysis carried out by other technical experts.

• One participant suggested that the OEB should consider the cumulative impacts of transporting oil through a pipeline in comparison to the cumulative impacts of transporting oil by rail. They suggested that as part of this analysis they should determine whether the Energy East project would decrease the need to transport oil by rail and subsequently decrease potential rail incidents.

3. Several participants at the meeting said they were concerned about the impacts a spill or leak would have on waterways in the area and made it clear that they were not satisfied with TransCanada’s guarantee that water would be supplied.

• Participants at the meeting were concerned about diluted bitumen entering local waterways, specifically the Rideau River, and the negative impacts this would have on the local environment, human health and fish habitats. One participant stated that a billion dollars would not even start to pay for the costs of cleaning up a diluted bitumen spill in the Rideau River.

• Some participants questioned TransCanada’s ability to deal with a spill in the Rideau River. One participant said they found it hard to believe that TransCanada would have the capability to stop the flow of the Rideau River and even if they could it would result in a great deal of flooding.

• A number of participants questioned TransCanada’s ability to supply adequate levels of water, noting that people need fresh water for a variety reasons beyond just drinking. Participants wanted to know where TransCanada would get enough water to supply Ottawa and the surrounding area.

4. There were concerns about natural gas pricing and supply.

• Some participants wanted the OEB to ensure consumers that the supply of natural gas to the area would not decrease and that the price would not increase as a result of the pipeline conversion.

• One participant stated that many people use conventional gas as their source of heat and they fear that the Energy East project would reduce the supply of conventional gas to a point where they would have to start using fracked gas from the United States. They were clear that they did not see this as a solution.

5. Several participants at the meeting expressed concerns regarding the NEB and TransCanada.

OEB Energy East Consultation and Review – Kanata Community Discussion Summary DRAFT Page 3 of 3

• Many participants showed frustration towards TransCanada and their application, noting that it was incomplete and did not address a number of the issues that they were most concerned about. Some of these issues included: identification and protection of significant waterways, the type of oil that would be transported by the pipeline and specific around emergency response plans and clean up.

• There were concerns about the timing of the NEB process; several participants felt it was happening too quickly. One participant felt the federal government was trying to rush the process through prior to the upcoming federal election.

• Other participants felt the process was flawed because it was simply looking at how to convert the pipeline not of whether the pipeline should be converted.

• Some participants questioned the integrity of TransCanada and said that if the Energy East project is approved that an independent party, not TransCanada, should carry out monitoring of the pipeline.

• One participant stated that the Ontario Energy Board, not the National Energy Board, should be setting the guidelines for any pipelines travelling through Ontario.

6. A few process suggestions were received

• It was suggested that the OEB and MPPs within Ontario should do everything they can to stop this process until TransCanada has submitted a complete application that could be reviewed by all Ontarians.

• Several participants said they were grateful that they had this opportunity to be consulted and showed eagerness to continue participating in the process. It was suggested that the OEB should continue to consult Ontarians and should reach out to more communities across the province.

Next Steps

Participants were thanked for their feedback and reminded that they can continue to provide their perspectives on the most important things for the OEB to focus on in their report to Ontario’s Ministry of Energy via written submissions up until the deadline for Part Two feedback. The deadline for Part Two feedback has been extended. To find out more information on the Part Two feedback deadline and provide a written submission, Ontarians can visit the OEB Energy East Consultation and Review website (www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/oebenergyeast).

All feedback received prior to the feedback deadline will be included in the Part Two Consultation Summary Report that will be written by the third-party facilitation team. This report will be used by the Ontario Energy Board to help inform their report to Ontario’s Ministry of Energy.