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Quill Plains chapter calls on the NEB to include upstream & downstream emissions in Energy East review

The Council of Canadians Quill Plains (Wynyard) chapter has told the National Energy Board (NEB) that it supports the inclusion of upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions in its list of issues when evaluating the 1.1 million barrel per day Trans Canada Energy East tar sands pipeline.


Chapter activist Elaine Hughes has told the NEB, “I commend the panel for its proposal to consider the upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions of Energy East, as well as the expanded List of Issues the panel has included in its draft.”


West Coast Environmental Law explains, “Upstream emissions, for an oil or gas pipeline, are those emissions involved in getting oil and gas out of the ground and into the pipeline. Downstream emissions are those that happen after the oil and gas has left the pipeline and is burned by its end-users.”


The Financial Post reports, “The National Energy Board may consider the upstream and downstream emissions associated with the construction of TransCanada Corp.’s massive Energy East pipeline project. The NEB released a draft list of issues [on May 10] that its hearing panel might consider as it reviews TransCanada’s application to build Energy East… The new draft list of issues the regulator may consider for the Energy East project includes economic considerations, aboriginal impacts, safety issues and landowner considerations — all of which were commonplace in past NEB reviews.”


The Globe and Mail adds, “[The NEB] asked for feedback before it finalizes the list of issues that it will assess during the review.” The National Observer further specifies, “Members of the public have until May 31 to comment on the preliminary list of subjects for both the Energy East and Eastern Mainline projects.”


During the October 2015 federal election, the Liberals promised they would “ensure that environmental assessments include an analysis of upstream impacts and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from projects under review.” In January 2016, the Trudeau government announced that projects would be assessed based on their upstream (filling the pipeline) and direct (construction) greenhouse gas emissions, but there was no commitment to assess the much larger downstream (burning the oil) emissions. As the West Coast Environmental Law Association points out, “Since 89% of emissions for a project may be from so-called ‘downstream’ emissions (in the case of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline, for example), that’s a major emission omission.”


The Energy East pipeline would generate about 32 million tonnes of upstream greenhouse gas emissions a year, a presumably much larger amount of downstream greenhouse gas emissions, enable a 39 per cent increase in tar sands production from 2012 levels, cross 2,900 waterways, would threaten the drinking water of 5 million people, and is opposed by the 122 First Nations in both Canada and the U.S. that comprise the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion.


The National Energy Board hearings on the pipeline were stopped in August 2016 following the scandal of two review panel commissioners privately having met with former Quebec premier Jean Charest, a paid consultant with TransCanada. In January 2017, the NEB officially appointed three new members to a panel to review the pipeline proposal. It has not been made public when the NEB hearings – in which The Council of Canadians is registered as an intervenor – will resume. There has been speculation that the new in-service target date for the pipeline is 2022.


The Council of Canadians has been opposing the Energy East tar sands pipeline project since February 2013.