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The Energy East Battle Is Over

Regardless Of The Reason, The Cancellation Of TransCanada's Pipeline Project Is A Good Thing

by Daniel Johnson

The proposed route of the Energy East pipeline, plans for which have now been abandonned
The proposed route of the Energy East pipeline, plans for which have now been abandonned

Yesterday, October 5, 2017, a long fight came to an end as TransCanada announced the cancellation of the Energy East pipeline project. 

According to TransCanada's rather vague statement, they decided to withdraw "...after careful review of changed circumstances..."

According to many media outlets and commentators, it was because they couldn't work within the National Energy Board's new review policies, or work with the new judges on the panel and start a whole new review process that actually took the ecological cost of the project into consideration. These new policies, the new judges and the re-booting of the Energy East review came about as a result of revelations from The National Observer that the previous members of its review panel had secret meetings with former Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who, at the time, was a consultant for TransCanada. 

If it had been completed, Energy East would have carried about 1 billion barrells of Alberta and Saskatchewan tarsands oil to a port in New Brunswick for shipping overseas. For more on the details of the project itself, which has already been the subject of countless articles over the years that don't need to be repeated here, I recommend:

The Energy East Pipeline had a lot of opponents. For years there have been countless demonstrations, acts of civil disobedience including blockades and equipment sabotage, petitions and the whole itinerary of opposition tactics directed at the Energy East Pipeline. 

Yet, according to many mainstream media sources, it has been cancelled mostly because of of the mayor in one city for reasons that have little to do with those of the development's other opponents. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre's main motive for working against Energy East was that Energy East had not made enough concessions specifically for the benefit of Quebec. 

Supporters of the project also came from diverse backgrounds, with seemingly different agendas.  

In January of 2016, CBC political commentator Rick Mercer fired off against Denis Coderre for his stance against Energy East. In February of 2016, another CBC political commentator, Rex Murphy, underwent an ethics review for CBC because of his vocal support of Energy East combined with his side-job as a paid speaker for oil related business conferences. 

Another Energy East supporter, the very anti-CBC Rebel Media founder Ezra Levant, had his own take on Mercer and Murphy's support for the pipeline, relating back to Quebec's intervention in the infamous Churchill Falls dam project. 

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall immediately blasted the federal Government, assigning blame to new policies that take environmental costs into consideration. Trudeau fired back through a Facebook post on October 7, warning against 'stoking national divisions', also saying the cancellation was unfortunate, but pointing out: 

"Our government has advanced a pan-Canadian energy and climate policy. We have maintained, since well before the 2015 election, that economic growth and environmental protection are linked.

Jim Carr and Catherine McKenna have led the way on this, together. As liberals, we hold that a clear, transparent regulatory process is key to the success of major resource projects. But to attribute the cancellation of Energy East to federal regulation - good, bad or indifferent - ignores the obvious.
 
First, our government has approved two major oil export pipelines that are under construction as we speak. A third is expected to move forward soon. That is precisely three major pipeline projects more than the previous government managed to initiate in a decade.
More importantly, there’s the market to consider. Energy East was conceived at a time when the global supply of crude was relatively tight, and practical alternatives for shipping Canadian heavy oil to global markets were few.
 
Since then, as Alberta oil patch workers know all too well, we’ve suffered a multi-year oil price slide, which is only now beginning to correct itself. And other pipelines are now in the works. TransCanada is a private company. Its directors are entitled to make decisions for their business based on market forces."

But ultimately, what matters, is that the project is cancelled. 

As many environmentalists pointed out, the building of new large scale national infrastructure for oil will make it harder to phase out oil in favour of renewable energy sources. Preventing the construction of more petroleum related infrastructure will make it easier for oil to fade into obsolescence as large scale infrastructure is constructed to support renewables. 

 


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