Decision ‘a victory’
Opponents to Energy East pipeline cheer suspension of process
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