By Trevor Busch
Oil pipelines allowing Western Canadian crude to reach tidewater are vital for the region’s future prosperity, but continued resistance from other Canadian jurisdictions are making the prospect of pipeline construction increasingly difficult.
In late August, National Energy Board hearings on the proposed Energy East pipeline were scheduled to begin in Montreal as part of their extended 21-month review process. Unruly protesters forced the cancellation of the first two days of hearings, and prompted the vocally opposed Mayor of Montreal (Denis Coderre) to abruptly walk out of the hearing.
“It’s absolutely an emotional issue in the sense of pipelines,” said Bow River MP Martin Shields. “I think the regulatory process that we have with the National Energy Board with open consultations intends to be as inclusive as possible. They made the comment that maybe they didn’t do that as good as they could have done.”
If constructed, the Energy East pipeline would transport approximately 1.1 billion barrels of Alberta and Saskatchewan oil to Eastern Canadian refineries every day, opening new markets for Canadian energy while providing a Canadian supply of oil to Eastern Canadian refineries.
Shields objected to the approach of protestors that choose to disrupt public consultation processes as acting outside the bounds of what most Canadians consider acceptable behaviour.
“You’re going to attract some people out there that are just fundamentally not willing to listen, they don’t want to present, they don’t want to follow the rules of order that we as Canadians believe is the process to get your opinion out there and get it stated. I just don’t accept that kind of behaviour if we’re going to have an open consultation process. No matter what the issue is, I think you have to behave in a way that’s acceptable to state your opinion.”
According to statistics, Eastern Canada imports 86 per cent of its oil from foreign jurisdictions, many of which do not have environmental standards and have been accused of human rights violations, and where energy exports often benefit corrupt or despotic regimes.
Construction of the Energy East pipeline would serve to mitigate many of these issues that plague the industry in Eastern Canada.
“It’s extremely important for Alberta, to give them another market access, rather than through the U.S. through their supply chain,” said Shields.
“It also provides the opportunity for Canadian oil to be refined in Canada on the east coast, where there’s room in refineries, and people in Eastern Canada can have access to the cleanest oil in the world.”
The NEB will continue with their extended review process and will present a report of their findings to the Liberal government by March 2018. The Cabinet will have six months to make a final decision on the pipeline’s approval, resulting in a 27-month long process.