Communities along pipeline routes warned about TransCanada’s problematic track record

For Immediate Release

June 2, Algonquin Territory (Ottawa)– TransCanada’s underbelly is exposed in a new report by the Polaris Institute that paints a troubling picture of the company’s track record. The report entitled Unplugging the Dirty Energy Economy: A Corporate Profile of Canadian Pipeline Company TransCanada, dissects the company piece by piece in order to critically examine its economic, political, social and environmental track record and provides valuable information that communities in contact with TransCanada should be aware of.

This new report from from the Polaris Institute will be a key resource for people who are facing the real possibility of a TransCanada pipeline passing through their communities. The case studies and stories presented in the profile show that  these communities have good reasons to doubt the information that they are receiving from the company.

“This report adds to the growing pile of evidence that shows how TransCanada is not dealing with communities in good faith” says Richard Girard, Executive Director of the Polaris Institute. “Despite the company’s immense financial power and political influence, opponents are successfully using the type of information included in the report to build unprecedented levels of public opposition to the TransCanada’’s projects right across North America,” added Girard.

"These case studies show the disregard in which Transcanada treats communities in Canada and the U.S. including my home community of the Lubicon Cree," explains Melina Laboucan-Massimo,member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation and Climate and Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. “My community has experienced first hand the toxic effects TransCanada's pipelines bring with them. Communities should beware and know there are better solutions to our community problems then the hollow promises TransCanada offers."

According to Dallas Goldtooth, Keystone XL Campaign Organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, “this profile will open the door to greater strategic organizing in the struggle to protect Mother Earth from the expansion and development of the dirty Keystone XL pipeline. The land defenders of the Great Plains welcome this powerful tool in its fight against TransCanada’s fossil fuel regime."

TransCanada has gained notoriety for its aggressive tactics, whether it is the systematic use of litigation in order to clear routes for its pipelines, or the consistent influencing of policymakers in Canada and the United States to remove environmental and other regulations that could stand in its way of making more profit. The report highlights anti-democratic tactics that stifle opposition as well as the company’s use of greenwashing to embellish its public image.

Some of the Profile’s findings include:

  1. TransCanada’s gas and oil pipelines leak. It’s not a question of if the pipelines will leak, rather of when, where and how much. Since 2010, when TransCanada’s first oil pipeline came into service, the company has reported 152 oil spills. According to the National Energy Board (NEB), 17 of the 39 major pipeline (gas and oil combined) accidents that have happened in Canada (from 1992 to 2014) occurred on pipelines owned by TransCanada or its subsidiary NGTL. Furthermore, the NEB only discloses 'reportable' breaches and many pipeline incidents never come to public attention.

  2. The company cultivates connections to political decision makers in both Canada and the United States. Examples from the profile include: Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada, hired by TransCanada in December 2013 to help win support for the Energy East pipeline from aboriginal communities along the route; Paul Elliott, TransCanada’s U.S. based lobbyist, is the former deputy director of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008/09; and TransCanada board member Derek Burney, is a former Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. (1989-1993).

  3. TransCanada constantly lobbies Canadian and US governments to weaken environmental policies. The company has registered 411 federal lobby communications in Canada between July 2008 and January 2015 making it one of the most active lobbyists of the federal government. Since 2001, TransCanada, together with its subsidiary TransCanada Pipelines, has spent $7.35 million (USD) lobbying the U.S. federal government. Approximately 80% of this total was spent since 2009.

  4. TransCanada has been working with federal agencies and secret services to spy on its opponents. In the US, joint trainings were held with TransCanada, the FBI and other enforcement agencies. TransCanada also hosted presentations for law enforcement officials where the company suggested who should be targeted and profiled by police, what charges they could use and how aggressive they should be. In Canada, a strong collaboration has been established between the federal government, the oil industry, CSIS and the RCMP over the last 10 years.

  5. TransCanada boasts of having built and operated natural gas pipelines in Argentina and Chile, namely the GasAndes Pipeline. The company declares that these pipelines remain part of its “proud history of industry-leading pipeline construction and operation.” What the company fails to mention is that the GasAndes pipeline was built despite concerns from communities along the route about potential for explosions given that the the pipeline was to pass through one of the world’s most earthquake-prone regions.

  6. Other case studies included in the profile explore issues related to: The Lubicon Cree First Nation; Port Arthur, Texas; Grand Rapids Pipeline – the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation; Keystone XL – Gulf Coast Extension, Texas; Keystone XL – Landowners and Indigenous Peoples in Nebraska & South Dakota; The Energy East Tar Sands Pipeline; Coastal Gaslink and Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Pipelines; and Colombia – OCENSA Oil Pipeline

 

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To read the report, please go to:  http://www.polarisinstitute.org/transcanada_profile

Click here for more reactions to our report.

For more information, please contact:

Richard Girard, richard@polarisinstitute.org 613 237-1717 ext 105

Daniel Cayley-Daoust, Daniel@polarisinstitute.org 819 593-4579

TransCanada Profile


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