Top 10 questions and concerns
As the important dialogue about Energy East continues across the country, TransCanada would like to address the more common concerns and questions the company has heard from Canadians.
We appreciate your questions, and look forward to continued collaboration and engagement with all Canadians in the months ahead:
1. TransCanada has exaggerated the number of long-term jobs created by projects such as Energy East.
- The Conference Board of Canada came up with the economic data for Energy East. They say the project will support over 14,000 jobs annually during a nine-year development and construction stage, and an additional 3,300 each year in the first 20 years of operations.
2. Has there been a surge in opposition against Energy East?
- An Angus Reid poll, published March 3, indicated 64 per cent of Canadians support the project.
- Less than two weeks later, an EKOS poll commissioned by the CBC suggested support for Energy East was close to 60%.
- Many Canadian municipalities and business associations also show strong support for the project.
3. Isn’t there growing opposition among First Nations opposed to Energy East?
- There are diverse views among First Nations and Métis communities about the project. In fact, Energy East has signed agreements with 51 First Nations and Métis communities, with 61 traditional knowledge studies complete or underway. More than 2,400 meetings with over 166 Indigenous communities and organizations have been completed. The dialogue continues.
4. Oil pipelines are not safe.
- A study conducted by the Fraser Institute, using data from the Transportation Safety Board and Transport Canada between 2003 and 2013, concludes pipelines are 4.5 times safer than rail. Energy East will have a capacity equivalent to more than 1,500 rail tankers.
- Almost 70 per cent of Canadians believe pipelines are safe, according to results of a joint CBC-EKOS poll released March 14.
5. Oil pipelines will invariably leak, causing toxic spills. “It’s not a question of if, but when.”
- It’s certainly true that there is no such thing as a zero risk — however the chances of a crude oil spill of more than 50 barrels at any given point in a pipeline has been calculated as 1 in 20,000 years.
- Incident rates in Canada and the United States show that pipeline spills are becoming rarer, lessening in frequency and are very small in size — with the majority of the spills just four barrels or less in size.
6. The existing Keystone Pipeline has had varying issues with pipeline spills.
- The 4,250-kilometre Keystone Pipeline is one of the safest oil pipelines operating today and has reliably transported over 1.2 billion barrels to markets in the Midwest and Gulf Coast since the start of the decade.
- In 2014, we had 10 reportable crude oil spills totalling 226 litres, less than 1½ barrels of oil, all of which resulted from minor mechanical or maintenance issues at valves. All were contained wholly within our facilities; none were the result of a pipeline leak.
- All crude oil spills were cleaned up with no adverse impact to the environment. TransCanada investigates and learns from all crude oil spills to make system-wide improvements in order to prevent similar recurrences.
7. TransCanada’s leak-detection system can’t detect spills under 1.5 per cent of the pipe’s capacity.
- Actually, in 2011, TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline controllers identified a tiny above-ground leak equivalent to 8.5 barrels of oil (well under 1% of capacity) within minutes from a small fitting at a pump station on TransCanada property. The leak was shut down within minutes.
8. The City of Winnipeg’s drinking water is threatened by Energy East.
- The water intake at Shoal Lake — the source of the City of Winnipeg’s drinking water — is on average more than 12 kilometres directly south of the pipeline route.
- Environmental experts have confirmed that crude oil would have to travel between 25.6 and 44.6 kilometres — through still lakes and slow moving rivers that act as natural barriers — before it could reach anywhere near Shoal Lake.
9. Can you trust TransCanada when it comes to their assertions about safety?
- We’ll let the facts speak for themselves. TransCanada has an average safety rate of 0.075 incidents/1,000km/year in the United States and 0.121 in Canada, compared to an average rate for the industry of 0.185.
- TransCanada has not had a single drop of oil leak into a lake or river.
10. Energy East will lead to more greenhouse gas emissions, and further expansion in the oil sands.
- A report prepared by the independent firm Navius in 2015 for the Ontario Energy Board says that is a myth — that the oil already planned for pipeline transport will be produced anyway, whether Energy East is built or not.
- The Energy East pipeline will produce less GHG emissions than other modes of transportation, such as trains, because a significant number of the pump stations will be operated in provinces with low-emissions electricity grids, resulting in lower emissions than diesel-powered rail engines.
- The oil sands produce approximately one tenth of one per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions — an extremely small number. (Source: Environment Canada 2013 and United Nations Statistics Division.)
- In 2012, U.S. coal-fired generation produced 25 times more GHG emissions than Canada’s oil sands. (Source: The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.)