De­ci­sion ‘a vic­tory’

Op­po­nents to En­ergy East pipe­line cheer sus­pen­sion of process

Northern News (Kirkland Lake) - - NEWS - PJ WIL­SON

Tran­sCanada Corp.’s an­nounce­ment it is sus­pend­ing its ap­pli­ca­tion to build a pro­posed 4,500-kilo­me­tre pipe­line that would go through North Bay is “a huge vic­tory for the com­mu­nity,” ac­cord­ing to Cather­ine Murton Stoehr.

Murton Stoehr, a mem­ber of Stop En­ergy East North Bay, said Fri­day it feels “so good” to see the pipe­line com­pany put on hia­tus the pro­posed En­ergy East pipe­line.

“Over the course of the day, I kept think­ing about the things that might have hap­pened” had the pipe­line pro­ceeded, she said.

The pro­posed pipe­line would have moved di­luted bi­tu­men – dil­bit – through the for­mer nat­u­ral gas pipe­lines from the Al­berta tarsands to the East Coast. Op­po­si­tion to the project spread across the coun­try when it was pro­posed, par­tic­u­larly in North Bay.

The nat­u­ral gas pipe­line crosses the mouth of Trout Lake, the source of North Bay’s drink­ing wa­ter. A spill, op­po­nents said, would have de­stroyed the lake and have lon­glast­ing ef­fects on the com­mu­nity.

Murton Stoehr said peo­ple like Yan and Shari Roberts and Nathan Kozuskanich “were there are the be­gin­ning” to op­pose the plan, and Mayor Al McDon­ald’s op­po­si­tion to the pipe­line “gave us real mo­men­tum.”

“It’s not just North­watch,” she said. “It is ev­ery group that fought against it. They wore (Tran­sCanada) down to the point where the project is no longer vi­able.”

She said any fu­ture pro­pos­als will have to take into con­sid­er­a­tion the op­po­si­tion that is al­ready in place.

“We col­lec­tively built the con­di­tions where the govern­ment had to start trad­ing one pipe­line off against the other,” she said.

“We’re go­ing to work col­lec­tively un­til they no longer con­sider pipe­lines a vi­able al­ter­na­tive.”

Murton Stoehr also said that “as long as the coun­try has ex­isted, we have fac­tored out costs to the en­vi­ron­ment” in eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions.

“We are now pay­ing a ter­ri­ble price for that folly.”

She pointed in par­tic­u­lar at hur­ri­canes Har­vey and Irma, giant storms that many are blam­ing on cli­mate change for their power and de­struc­tive force.

Pa­trick DeRochie of En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fence, said Tran­sCanada’s de­ci­sion to put the project aside is a sign the com­pany re­al­izes “that En­ergy East is noth­ing more than a pipe dream.

“The project is in­com­pat­i­ble with Canada’s cli­mate com­mit­ments, makes no eco­nomic sense in a car­bon con­strained world, and faces too much op­po­si­tion from Cana­di­ans and First Na­tions to ever get built.”

He said the sus­pen­sion is a smart move, but Tran­sCanada now has to pull the plug com­pletely on the project.

“Cana­di­ans will not let the pro­posed En­ergy East pipe­line put their land, wa­ter and cli­mate at risk. Con­tin­u­ing to pur­sue this ill­con­ceived project is throw­ing good money af­ter bad.”

Tran­sCanada filed a let­ter to the Na­tional En­ergy Board ask­ing for a 30-day sus­pen­sion for the project so it can study how the NEB’s de­ci­sion last month to con­sider the En­ergy East’s con­tri­bu­tion to up­stream and down­stream green­house gas emis­sions will af­fect “costs, sched­ules and vi­a­bil­ity.”

Tran­sCanada is call­ing the changes to the reg­u­la­tor process “sig­nif­i­cant,” and warns that the en­tire project and re­lated Eastern Main­line pipe­line project could be can­celled.

It’s an­other blow to the mas­sive project af­ter a re­view was de­railed last year when mem­bers of the reg­u­la­tory panel over­see­ing the NEB hear­ings re­signed amid ques­tions about a po­ten­tial con­flict of in­ter­est.

In Jan­uary, the NEB in­val­i­dated nearly two years of de­ci­sions made by the pre­vi­ous panel and a new panel was ap­pointed.

The En­ergy East re­view is tak­ing place at the same time that the govern­ment con­sid­ers a sweep­ing over­haul of the NEB fol­low­ing a report in May that said the sys­tem is bro­ken and the NEB should be split into two agen­cies.

Tran­sCanada had pitched En­ergy East as a “Cana­dian so­lu­tion to a Cana­dian chal­lenge.”

It said the 1.1 mil­lion bar­rels of crude that would be de­liv­ered across the coun­try each day would dis­place hun­dreds of thousands of bar­rels of for­eign oil cur­rently im­ported into Eastern Canada daily. With files from Cana­dian Press

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