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TransCanada files for Energy East, final decision expected by May 2016

Photo: Council of Canadians Board member Leticia Adair and Barlow protest the Energy East pipeline outside the TransCanada open house in Saint John yesterday. Photo by Andrea Harden.

Council of Canadians Board member Leticia Adair and Barlow protest the Energy East pipeline outside the TransCanada open house in Saint John yesterday. Photo by Andrea Harden.

Calgary-based TransCanada filed a 30,000 page application with the National Energy Board yesterday for its controversial Energy East pipeline project. It will take time to go through all that material, but there were some interesting aspects to take note of from the media coverage of the application:

1- “TransCanada expects roughly half of the volumes shipped along Energy East will be used at refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick… The most attractive export markets will be the U.S. East Coast for light crude, and the U.S. Gulf Coast, Europe and even western India for diluted bitumen from the oil sands, the company said.” >> Roughly half of 1.1 million barrels per day for domestic use would mean about 550,000 barrels bpd for export. A report we co-sponsored says the amount exported could be closer to 978,000 bpd.

2- “The project will also include construction of oil terminals in Saskatchewan, Quebec and New Brunswick.” >> The terminal in Quebec is the controversial Cacouna port in the protected beluga whale habitat that would allow for supertanker shipments on the St. Lawrence River. In New Brunswick, Irving wants to build a new export terminal on the Bay of Fundy. Earlier news reports indicate that a terminal in Saskatchewan would help move fracked crude from the Bakken formation in that province.

3- “TransCanada also filed on Thursday for NEB approval for its $1.5-billion (Canadian) plan to build a 250-kilometre gas pipeline from southern Ontario to Quebec, a project it says will ensure customers have all the gas they need and will save $900-million over 15 years.” >> This proposal is intended to counter the concerns being raised by natural gas companies including Gaz Metro that the conversion of an existing natural gas pipeline into this pipeline would mean that 3.6 million residents in Ontario and Quebec would be pay higher rates for their home heating and natural gas.

4- “One landowner along the proposed route in New Brunswick, Rick Verge, who owns a farm near Titusville, has refused to allow TransCanada to conduct a land survey on his property and has asked the company to re-route the pipeline around his land. Given the company’s similar experience with landowners along its proposed Keystone XL route, it seems safe to say Verge’s will not be the only such request Energy East receives.” >> The rerouting required around the Sandhills in Nebraska was a major delay in the process for the Keystone XL pipeline.

5- “TransCanada executive vice-president Alex Pourbaix said the company has consulted extensively with First Nations along the route and has benefits agreements with many, but regional chiefs in Ontario and Quebec say that effort has been insufficient. Failure to gain their support could result in lengthy lawsuits and delays.” >> Apart from those regional chiefs in Ontario and Quebec, the Council of Canadians participated in a meeting with 70 First Nation leaders and Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, all of whom are concerned about the pipeline project. More about that meeting this past May in Winnipeg in this blog, Council of Canadians supports First Nation opposition to Energy East pipeline.

6- “Getting the regulator to endorse its plan will be no easy feat for TransCanada. While not the official company line, Energy East is being framed in public discourse as a ‘just in case’ pipeline to be utilized only if other projects such as Keystone XL, Northern Gateway and the Trans Mountain expansion end up indefinitely stalled.” >> While that message may not be seen as a good spin to take to the NEB, we unfortunately already know that the regulatory body will not consider climate change among its ‘list of issues‘ when reviewing the pipeline proposal.

7- “Once the NEB verifies the application is complete Canadian law requires the regulator to decide whether to support the $12-billion project in no more than 15 months. That gives them roughly until early February 2016 to make a recommendation to federal cabinet, at which point Ottawa will have three months to make a final decision. If all goes as well as it possibly could for TransCanada from this point forward, Energy East could have a green light by the spring of 2016 and shipments could begin by late 2018.” >> With the federal election expected on October 19, 2015, a May 2016 deadline for cabinet means the pipeline will be a major decision made within the first six months of the next federal government.

The Council of Canadians opposes the Energy East pipeline. Our chairperson Maude Barlow is currently on a speaking tour in New Brunswick in opposition to the pipeline with upcoming stops in Fredericton on Tuesday and Edmundston on Thursday. Yesterday, she was at a protest outside a TransCanada open house in Saint John.

Our opposition to the proposal was also well represented in media reports yesterday. The Canadian Press reported, “‘We will fight Energy East every step of the way, and we are far from alone’, said Andrea Harden-Donahue, energy and climate justice campaigner with the Council of Canadians.” The Business News Network picked up the same quote reporting, “‘We will fight Energy East every step of the way’, vowed Andrea Harden-Donahue of the Council of Canadians in a release. ‘And we are far from alone.'” CBC News hyperlinked near the top of their report two articles related to our work, “Maude Barlow rallies opposition to Energy East plan” and “Energy East benefits overblown, report says“. And Barlow and Toronto-based Council of Canadians regional organizer Mark Calzavara were both on CTV National News last night (starting at the 16:15 point in the broadcast) expressing their opposition to the pipeline proposal.

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