Oil & Gas, Politics

Energy East Update

TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline proposal has been around for a while.  If built, it would be the largest oil pipeline in Canadian history and travel roughly 4,600km across the country to fill 281 oil tankers in the Bay of Fundy. Confused about the recent media buzz? Wondering whether the project is on or off? Here’s a short summary of where it stands right now.

On August 23rd, the National Energy Board (NEB) released a revised List of Issues, which outlined what can be discussed during the hearing and therefore what is taken into consideration when the NEB makes their recommendation to the federal government. The revised List of Issues included upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on climate change, as well as a stronger focus on the environmental impact of increased tanker traffic in the Bay of Fundy. This was very welcome news and likely took TransCanada by surprise.

On September 1st, the NEB notified TransCanada that the company would have until September 15th to file any additional evidence or project updates. The NEB also directed TransCanada to file a concordance table, which would indicate where information pertaining to each issue could be found within the existing Energy East filings.

On September 7th, TransCanada requested a 30-day suspension of the process to review the revised List of Issues and the resulting implications for the Energy East project. Further, they requested that the deadline to file the concordance table be extended to October 27th.

On September 8th, the NEB granted their request. The 30-day suspension is effective until October 8th and TransCanada will have until October 27th to file their concordance table.

Where things could go from here is anybody’s guess. Some think TransCanada is ready to scrap the project after years of an uphill battle, while others have suggested the company is just playing politics. After the 30-day suspension was approved and rumours began to fly about whether the project was on its way out, the federal government jumped in and “offered to the National Energy Board and TransCanada to undertake the upstream and downstream GHG assessments to avoid added cost constraints for the proponent”. More on that here – https://www.inquisitr.com/4509182/justin-trudeau-using-taxpayers-money-to-help-out-oil-giant-transcanada-pipelines-with-energy-east-costs/

Moving forward, there seem to be several possible scenarios, including a scaling down of the project, or a proposal for a different marine terminal. However, in order to keep this update as clear as possible, let’s focus on the go or no-go scenarios for the project application as presented.

If the project gets the “go” – meaning TransCanada chooses to continue with its application – we’ll continue to move through the NEB regulatory process. The next phase in the NEB review would be a completeness determination. Essentially, this step is a determination whether TransCanada’s application provides sufficient evidence to enable participants to engage effectively in the hearing. The NEB will accept comments from Intervenors at that time regarding their views on completeness.

If the project gets the “no-go”, we celebrate and reflect on a long-fought campaign to stand up for communities and reject TransCanada’s public relations attempt at framing this as a nation builder and Canadian oil for Canadian consumers. More on why that’s untrue and other myth-busting here – https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/three-myths-about-the-energy-east-pipeline/article21518545/?arc404=true

Getting approval to build a beast like Energy East is no easy feat, especially in a world that’s turning its attention to the climate crisis. Now that the true cost of this fossil fuel infrastructure is being considered via its greenhouse gas emissions, we can only hope Energy East’s days are numbered. However, from Northern Gateway to Keystone XL to offshore drilling in the Atlantic, we know that nothing is a given in oil politics. The only thing that’s clear at this point is that TransCanada will have to break their silence in the coming weeks. Stay Tuned!

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