Pipeline cancellation national humiliation
The scrapping of TransCanada Corp’s $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline is regrettable. The fact the decision was prompted by uncertainty about the regulatory review the project faced is deplorable.
The National Energy Board — responding to signals from the government of Justin Trudeau — insisted that upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions form part of the review, a requirement it added midway through the process. That means the national regulator would have considered the amount of emissions generated by the extraction of the oil, as well as when it was burned, perhaps as fuel to power Quebec-made Bombardier jets.
The NEB’s overreaching test was too much. It seems strange the government and its various arms’-length bodies don’t fret about the emissions produced by Bombardier’s various products, which are dependent on the very resource Energy East was going to transport from Alberta to Quebec and the East Coast.
Federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi said the move by TransCanada was a business decision and he dismissed suggestions the culprit was the NEB’s new rules.
“It’s the company’s decision not to proceed with Energy East based on their business analysis. It has nothing to do with the federal government’s review process,” Sohi said. Evidently that wasn’t the case. “There remains substantial uncertainty around the scope, timing and cost associated with the regulatory review of the projects,” the company said of the pipeline and a proposed marine terminal in New Brunswick.
“After completing its careful review of these factors, the existing and likely future delays resulting from the regulatory process, the associated cost implications and the increasingly challenging issues and obstacles facing the projects, the applicants will not be proceeding further with the projects.”
It is not only an embarrassment that the pipeline’s cancellation ensures the East’s continued dependence on foreign oil, but it is a scandal that Canada can’t get such projects built in a timely fashion.
Even pipelines that have been approved are met with opposition and legal challenges, raising doubts about the so-called social license the NDP imagined its provincial carbon tax would earn.
The list of abandoned energy proposals now tops $56 billion in the past year alone. The Trudeau government needs to recognize the importance of such pursuits to the country’s economy.