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Council of Canadians opposes Energy East tar sands pipeline to Canso, Nova Scotia

Canso, Nova Scotia

The Council of Canadians is opposed to the 1.1 million barrel per day TransCanada Energy East pipeline as well as its proposed extension to Canso, Nova Scotia.

Earlier this week, Calgary-based engineering consultant Mike Priaro commented, “Canada must build the Energy East pipeline to Saint John with an extension to Canso to relieve environmental risk in the Bay of Fundy. [This project would] access new, more profitable markets in eastern Canada, Europe, western India, and Southeast Asia [and diminish our reliance on the United States as an export market].”

In December 2016, Global News reported, “A Senate committee report on how best to transport crude oil within Canada has endorsed expanding pipeline infrastructure. The report includes a ‘non-binding’ recommendation to extend the proposed end point of the Energy East pipeline from Saint John to Canso, N.S.”

Senator Terry Mercer, who represents Nova Scotia in the Senate Liberal Caucus, argues, “It is closer to European markets by ship. It would help stabilize tanker traffic in the Bay of Fundy and and it even opens up the possibility of running spur lines to underused refineries in the Halifax-Dartmouth area.”

In February 2014, we highlighted in a campaign blog that San Antonio, Texas-based NuStar Energy LP was seeking to have the Energy East pipeline extended an additional 500 kilometres from Saint John, New Brunswick to their Strait of Canso terminal and storage facilities in Point Tupper, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

At that time we noted that the company has been in conversation with TransCanada and the provincial government of Nova Scotia about this. The province’s then-energy minister Andrew Younger said that he saw the benefit of the company exporting Alberta crude oil from Cape Breton. Younger was removed from cabinet in November 2015 after failing to show up at the court case of someone accused of assaulting him by invoking legislative privilege.

And in December 2014, we noted in another campaign blog that the Council for the Municipality of the District of Guysborough in Nova Scotia had voted in favour of sending letters to both the Premier of Nova Scotia and federal representatives in support of extending the Energy East pipeline to Canso. At that time, Warden Vernon Pitts stated, “It only makes sound economic sense to extend the pipeline right down into the province of Nova Scotia. It should go at least as far as the Strait of Canso.”

Halifax-based Council of Canadians organizer Robin Tress says, “Energy East is not good for communities’ water, safety, climate, or economy, no matter where it ends, so extending the pipeline to Nova Scotia is similarly unacceptable. The National Energy Board does not provide perfect opportunities for public input, but for politicians and senators to discuss this extension in a serious way without opening that discussion up to the public through a regulated process like the NEB is anti-democratic. If the Energy East extension is being seriously considered by TransCanada, the Government of Nova Scotia, or NuStar, it should be included in the NEB review and subject to public scrutiny.”

It is not known when the National Energy Board hearings on the Energy East pipeline will resume, but an NEB recommendation on the pipeline had been expected by March 2018. The Trudeau government would then have until June 2018 to make its decision on the pipeline. TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, wants Energy East operational by late 2019 or early 2020. There is now speculation that the NEB review would not be complete until early 2020 meaning the pipeline is operational by 2022.

The Council of Canadians continues to monitor this situation closely.