Throughout the month of August 2015, Sierra Club Quebec organized several bioblitzes along the projected trajectory of the Energy East pipeline. A bioblitz is an inventory of biodiversity, carried out by volunteers in a limited amount of time. A team of 23 volunteers visited 19 different habitats between Pointe-Fortune (close to where the pipeline would enter the province of Quebec) and Saint-Aubert (located on the south shore of the Saint Laurence River, halfway between Quebec City and Rivière du Loup), and recorded the species of wildlife they observed.
The results of these inventories provide a detailed portrait of the ecosystems that will be affected by the construction of the Energy East pipeline. There is a rich variety of habitats on the projected path of the pipeline, including forests, fields, and wetlands, all of which harbour many species. The wetlands are home to the northern map turtle and wood turtle, both of which are endangered and protected by provincial law. The bioblitzes identified a total of 249 different plant species.
These ecosystems will be severely impacted during the construction phase of the project. Of even greater concern is the impact an oil spill would have on these habitats. With the pipeline's capacity to transport 1.1 million barrels a day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to the refineries and port terminals of Eastern Canada, even a spill that lasts for a short period of time would lead to catastrophic effects. The National Energy Board recently released an interactive map that tracks spills and other pipeline incidents that have occurred across Canada between 2008 and 2015. The map shows 692 incidents.
Sierra Club of Canada Foundation opposes the construction of the Energy East pipeline because of the severe damage to wildlife it will entail and because it will cause a major increase in greenhouse gases. A report from the Pembina Institute predicts that the pipeline project will increase greenhouse gas emissions by up to 32 million tonnes a year.
A policy brief, including the results of the bioblitzes, will be presented to the Communauté Métropolitaine de Montréal, on October 8, 2015, as part of the CMM Energy East consultation. To consult the full report, click here.