350.org, Council Of Canadians Helping Prepare For Energy East Fight
On Saturday January 18, 2014 an accident at the Rowat pumping station led to a discharge of over 125 barrels of oil in about 30 seconds just south of Regina within view of the city.
It was a wake up call for activists whose main concerns had been centered on other parts of the country, petitioning and demonstrating against problems away from home. The initial meeting at a downtown restaraunt drew a small group of regular activists from different local groups including Mother Earth Justice Advocates, Idle No More, the local Council Of Canadians chapter and Occupy Regina as well as non-activists who had just learned how close their home town came to a potential disaster.
Discussions started about the plan to convert the existing pipeline and pumping station into part of TransCanada’s Entergy East Project, and how much more of a danger this presented.
The project involves converting 3,000 km of an aging natural gas pipeline to carry tar sands oil from Alberta to eastern Ontario and joining it with a section of new pipeline which would run from eastern Ontario more than 1,400 km across southern Quebec to Saint John, New Brunswick.
A massive project with major environmental and social impact, and risk of much worse impact, to make it easier to sell the oil from the tar sands which have already had a terrible impact on our Country’s ecological health.
A loose knit coalition was formed near the end of January, tentatively named ‘Regina Oil Watch’ and began working to draw attention to the issue through small random street demonstrations, protest, occasional banner drops and recently a mock marriage in front of Regina City Hall, between Energy East and The City Of Regina, with First Nations activist Susanna Deranger officiating.
On July 3, some Oilwatch supporters organized a meeting featuring 350.org campaigner Cameron Fenton on how to begin organizing and mobilizing Regina citizens against the proposed pipeline conversion project, which would carry over 1 million barrels per day of tar sands crude to the Atlantic coast. As the organizers said, ‘Fighting Energy East is crucial in stopping renegade tar sands expansion that is violating Indigenous rights, threatening frontline communities along the pipeline route and driving dangerous climate change.’.
Fenton explained the plan for a movement that would use all methods available at key points across the country all along the pipeline route, with Regina being an urban center close the pipeline, it’s a good strategic point for anti-pipeline campaigners, and since it is also a city with many people at risk in the event of a major leak or spill.