2 thoughts on “Past Events

  1. Really people!! Are you not aware that there 200 tankers of oil almost per day being shipped right though downtown Kenora on the railroad tracks!! I haven’t heard any comment from this group on that issue! If you do your research (and you obviously haven’t) you will find that the pipeline rate of accidents far outreaches any other form of transportation of this commodity. This product WILL be shipped to market one way or the other by the oil companies. Face it people, we cannot live without oil anymore; can we use it more efficiently, yes, but it’s use will absolutly not stop in our life time!! Choose the right and safest method of transportation and that is a pipeline.

    PS: TransCanada does not own any oil, they only transport it. if you are really valid, go after the owners of this commodity or the current culprits and that is the rail companies who’s trains fall off the tracks daily.

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    • Hi Frank, Yes, you’re completely right that the massive increase in the transportation of oil by rail is an alarming situation and one that concerns all of us involved with Alternatives to Energy East Kenora as well. We’ve actually written fairly extensively on this, and from our booth at the farmers’ market, we leafleted with a handout about the dangers of oil by rail during the week of action to end oil by rail in early July.

      That said, there’s a bit of a fallacy in the argument that the pipeline is an alternative to oil by rail. Two points need to be understood here: first, the proposed pipeline conversion is intended to meet FUTURE EXPANSION of oil sands production. As of last year, the oil sands were producing in the neighbourhood of 2 million barrels of product per day, and Alberta had a “burst capacity” (this is the total volume they can distribute in one shot if they were to use all methods of shipping currently available) of about 3 million barrels per day – in other words, there’s enough infrastructure to carry product to the refineries already. (The current processing bottleneck is actually in getting product from centralized terminals in the southern US to the coastal US refineries.) However, the target is to increase production to around 6 million barrels per day over the next 15 years, so this is why there’s a big push to increase the amount of distribution infrastructure – this includes plans for pipelines AND rail expansion. Rail is expected to increase to carry about four times the volume that is currently carried, WITH OR WITHOUT the pipeline projects being approved. Approving the pipeline conversion is just allowing ourselves to be exposed to TWO conduits for carrying oil through Kenora, instead of limiting to the one existing means (rail) – and we fully agree that this practice also isn’t ideal for the safety of our community or our environment or for the rail workers who have to handle this dangerous stuff.

      The second point that is important to bear in mind is that, at least at present, rail is being used to carry a different product than will be pushed through the pipeline. The pipeline will carry unrefined, diluted tar sands bitumen from northern Alberta. The vast majority (possibly all?) the rail through Kenora is currently carrying Bakken shale crude – the stuff that results from fracking the shale formations in North Dakota. It is unlikely Bakken or any other fracked crude will ever be carried by pipeline to any appreciable extent simply because the fracking wells usually only last 3-5 years – too short a lifespan to make it economical to load the product by anything other than truck and rail. By the time a pipeline got built into an existing fracking field, the wells would already be drying up! So as long as the shale gas fracking boom persists, we’re going to continue to see oil shipped by rail, unfortunately.

      This does raise the bigger question about the overall game plan for addressing the general problem of decreasing the volume of oil being transported through our communities, and really the answer to that issue comes in slowing down production in the oil sands – and certainly NOT facilitating further expansion, as would be made possible if the Energy East pipeline conversion was approved. This sounds like heresy in a country that touts the value of oil and gas production to our economy, but even that is a bit of a myth (oil & gas contribute only about 6% to Canada’s GDP, and the oil sands contributes only 2% to national GDP!).

      The biggest, and perhaps least talked about issue, underpinning this whole discussion is actually climate change, and the fact that we cannot forestall the most serious, catastrophic, and human life-negating impacts of climate destabilization unless WE KEEP THE OIL IN THE GROUND. How are we going to do that? Well, it’ll be complicated, perhaps, but for sure it involves restricting the number of paths by which oil can get out of Alberta and to market and that’s one of the main goals of our group. The other efforts we’re making – and we’re only just starting on this stuff – is to look at viable alternatives to oil and gas. Renewable, clean, sustainable energy options already exist and are viable, it’s just a matter of supporting their widespread adoption and transitioning our social behaviours and our economy to this new foundation – an exciting, if somewhat daunting, bit of work! Hope you’ll be keen to join us in doing it!

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