Active Corrosion: Building Working-class Opposition to Pipelines

By Two Toronto Members, Two Kitchener-Waterloo Members

Pipelines transport approximately 95% of Canada’s crude oil and natural gas, and are crucial to the viability of the petroleum industry. New pipeline construction is essential to the distribution of oil to other markets and in the profitability of an increased rate of oil extraction. This makes pipelines a linchpin in the struggle against climate change, not because of the act of construction or the transport of oil itself, but because of the increase in oil extraction that will occur throughout Canada if they are built. As the petroleum industry makes considerations about their growth, they trouble only one thing: can they build more pipelines? The industry’s predicted expansion is entirely dependent on whether or not pipeline projects will go forward, a process called “market diversification”. In The Decade Ahead: Labour Market Outlook to 2022 for Canada’s Oil and Gas Industry, a report put out jointly by the Canadian government and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, a lack of community support is identified as the main impediment to pipeline construction. They seek to engage community stakeholders and strengthen their “relationships with Aboriginal communities,” as this is “key to the sustainable growth of this sector.” Of course, increased profitability and not environmental stability is the “sustainability” desired here.

In 2016 construction is slated to begin on the Energy East Pipeline: 4600 km of new and converted pipeline stretching from Hardisty, Alberta to Saint John, New Brunswick moving 1.1 million barrels of oil daily. Workers are being trained to complete this work by their union, United Association, with financial support from TransCanada and the Energy East Pipeline Project team. Training facilities are located in Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Sarnia, Montreal, Miramichi, and Dartmouth. The challenge faced by capital is to “gain the social license to expand and operate.” Our challenge is to shut them down.[...] read more