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.