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TransCanada CEO says new emission rules not necessary

Russ Girling


The Chief Executive Officer of TransCanada, the company behind the proposed Energy East pipeline, says new emission measures are not needed.


The Canadian Press reports, “Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanada Corp., said he believes new federal requirements that take into account upstream emissions when reviewing pipelines are not needed. Oil and natural gas projects are already subject to vigorous regulation, Girling said, adding that the regulatory process for pipelines should focus on safety and spill response rather than issues he said aren’t germane to pipeline development. …Girling added that he hopes efforts by the Alberta and federal governments to cap and lower emissions will help reduce the ‘noise’ around the issue as it relates to pipelines.”


Girling says, “The emissions, both upstream and downstream, are reviewed in other regulatory processes, when those facilities themselves are approved. Once approved, all we do is move that product from A to B. So I think what we’ve determined is those emissions will be part of the review, but what I think what the review will determine is that building a pipeline really doesn’t have an impact on the rate of growth for production or the rate of refining.”


A few points to keep in mind when considering these comments:

New federal requirements that take into account upstream emissions when reviewing pipelines are not needed.

– The crude production needed to fill the Energy East pipeline would generate an additional 30 to 32 million tonnes of upstream carbon emissions each year — the equivalent of adding more than seven million cars to our roads.

– The downstream emissions that occur after the crude leaves the pipeline – those from refining the crude and then burning the finished product – represents the vast majority of its life cycle emissions impact (and are not taken into account in federal reviews).

– Science says that no more than 7.5 billion barrels of oil can be extracted from the tar sands over the next 35 years to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, the Energy East pipeline alone would exceed that budget after 19 years.

The regulatory process for pipelines should focus on safety and spill response.

– In North America, people passing nearby discover the majority of pipeline spills – not pipeline leak detection systems.

– The proposed leak detection system can only detect leaks greater than 1.5 per cent of the pipeline’s capacity, meaning an undetected leak of 1.5 per cent could release 16,500 barrels of oil in a single day.

– If leak detection and shut down were to happen perfectly, 22 minutes could elapse before pumping stops (and in that time 16,794 barrels of oil could spill).

Efforts by the Alberta and federal governments to cap and lower emissions will help reduce the “noise” around the issue as it relates to pipelines.

– The federal government has not announced a cap on emissions, nor has it has taken substantive measures to lower emissions (it has only pledged to reduce emissions by 14 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030).

– The Alberta climate plan places a 100-megatonne a year cap on tar sands emissions (the current level of emissions from the tar sands is 70 megatonnes a year), meaning the plan would allow a 40 per cent increase in current emissions.

– The federal government has forecast that, without new climate measures, emissions in 2030 will be 815 megatonnes, or 33 per cent higher than the 2020 target it pledged to meet at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009.

Building a pipeline really doesn’t have an impact on the rate of growth for production.

– Energy East would represent approximately a one-third increase in the capacity of the pipeline network carrying crude out of western Canada today.

– Filling the Energy East pipeline would help spur 650,000 to 750,000 barrels per day of additional production from the tar sands.


For more on our campaign to stop the Energy East pipeline, please click here.