Blind ob­ses­sion

Journal Pioneer - - EDITORIAL -

As en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists cel­e­brate their vic­tory halt­ing the En­ergy East pipe­line, storm clouds are ap­pear­ing to dampen the party and darken that green hori­zon. Groups such as the Sierra Club of Canada and the David Suzuki Foun­da­tion wel­comed the an­nounce­ment by Tran­sCanada to aban­don plans to build a $15 bil­lion pipe­line to sup­ply the Irv­ing Oil re­fin­ery in Saint John. Their lob­by­ing for en­hanced green­house gas emis­sion stan­dards is partly re­spon­si­ble for killing the pipe­line, and Tran­sCanada did cite those tougher cri­te­ria as a fac­tor.

Mar­ket forces also played a ma­jor role. When the pipe­line idea was first pro­posed in 2013, the oil sec­tor was boom­ing, with the price of crude oil above $100 per bar­rel, com­pared to $50 to­day. So the de­ci­sion was based as much on eco­nomic fac­tors as road­blocks from the Na­tional En­ergy Board and anti-pipe­line groups.

It’s in­ter­est­ing that the Sierra Club or Suzuki Foun­da­tion failed to ex­press any con­cern for the dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on Saint John and New Brunswick. They must be sat­is­fied that young At­lantic Cana­di­ans are forced to find work in On­tario and Western Canada and that this re­gion will con­tinue as a have-not area. De­pressed oil prices have ham­mered New­found­land and Labrador, and placed hard­ships on res­i­dents. Yet, again, there is no con­cern from the anti-oil lobby.

This week, Nova Sco­tia an­nounced it is pre­par­ing for the end of nat­u­ral gas from the Sable Off­shore En­ergy Project as re­serves dwin­dle. The re­gion is los­ing an im­por­tant en­ergy op­tion and rev­enue source.

The en­vi­ron­men­tal risks posed by trans­port­ing Al­berta oil by rail car or trans­port truck to At­lantic Canada are much higher than by pipe­line. We don’t want to see an­other Lac Me­gan­tic dis­as­ter where 47 peo­ple died. Pipe­line op­po­nents show no con­cerns for th­ese dan­ger­ous al­ter­na­tives.

Many Cana­di­ans are de­mand­ing a re­view of the NEB’s man­date. They see the reg­u­la­tory body as an ob­struc­tion.

The En­ergy East de­ci­sion is reignit­ing West against East ten­sions. Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau is ac­cus­ing pipe­line sup­port­ers of stok­ing na­tional di­vi­sions, as he plays the unity card to blunt Con­ser­va­tive crit­i­cism of a dis­as­trous Lib­eral en­ergy pol­icy.

The east­ern pipe­line would have ben­e­fit­ted all Cana­di­ans and helped cre­ate tax rev­enues to fund health­care, ed­u­ca­tion, in­fra­struc­ture and yes, in­creased al­ter­na­tive en­ergy re­search and projects.

We agree the coun­try must move to­ward green en­ergy op­tions and fol­low the Paris cli­mate ac­cord, but not at the risk of crip­pling our econ­omy and adding hard­ships onto Cana­di­ans. Apart from am­bigu­ous sup­port for an in­ter­con­nected elec­tric­ity grid - that would close coal plants in Nova Sco­tia – anti-oil lobby groups are largely bereft of ideas.

Th­ese groups are in­tent on crip­pling the Cana­dian econ­omy even fur­ther. Em­bold­ened, they plan on di­rect­ing at­ten­tion to other pipe­line projects such as Key­stone XL and Kinder Mor­gan. There are other fac­tors in play be­sides cli­mate change, wa­ter­ways, wildlife and lands. Bil­lions of dol­lars in fos­sil fuel ex­ports pay for our stan­dard of liv­ing – not the sun or wind.

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