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Climate movement claims victory as NEB considers Energy East’s full emissions contributions

We have been calling for the full climate impacts of the Energy East pipeline to be considered in the National Energy Board’s review of the project since 2013. On Wednesday the NEB announced that it would do just that.

Our Saint John and Fredericton chapters protest outside an Energy East information session in 2015.

This is a huge victory for the thousands of people who have fought against Energy East snaking through our communities, endangering our water ways and risking our climate! By working together both within and outside of the National Energy Board’s process, we have made a huge step towards shutting this pipeline down. Let’s celebrate!

The Council of Canadians, our chapters, and our allies across the country, have been fighting against this pipeline for almost five years. Make no mistake – this success is a result of our collective hard work.

This summer we hosted three events in celebration and defense of water threatened by Energy East, and vehemently opposed Health Canada’s decision to exempt the Energy East terminus from rigid air quality standards. In 2015 we worked with grassroots organizers to rally 550 people for the March to the End of the Line in Red Head, outside Saint John, NB. Over the years we have toured New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan to educate and organize people of all stripes against the pipeline.

Since the very beginning we’ve been calling for climate impacts of Energy East to be included in the NEB’s review. In 2014 we went to the Federal Court of Appeal because the NEB’s failure to include upstream and downstream emissions in its review of Energy East was a direct failure to meet its own mandate for environmental health and public safety. We’ve signed on to letters, held press conferences, participated in official hearings, and watched gladly as NEB proceedings were interrupted.

Yesterday the NEB released a new list of issues with Energy East. The board says that because greenhouse gas emissions have been a growing public interest issue, and because of the multiple governmental commitments to act on climate change, “the Board will focus on the quantification of incremental upstream and incremental downstream GHG emissions, as well as incremental emissions resulting from third-party electricity generation.”

After years of our tireless collective work, we have cleared this major hurdle in stopping Energy East.

The work is not done, and by no means in the NEB process now perfect. If Energy East was recommended by the NEB and accepted by the government we would still fight it. This pipeline is too risky, and that risk can’t be regulated or reviewed away.

Carbon emissions have been the elephant in the room at NEB hearings.

The Trudeau government has exempted the proposed Energy East marine terminal and tank farm in Saint John from proposed new regulations to reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) air pollutants. Read our report by Dr. Ken Froese for more information on the air quality risks of the Energy East terminus, and add your voice to the call for air quality standards to be applied.  

The NEB remains flawed, and we stand by our assessment that the review of Energy East should be put on hold until the federal government has finished overhauling the NEB and federal environmental laws. Even though this new list of issues is better than the last, the process remains problematic on many fronts.