Chamber supports project “done right and done safely” (April 2016)

To the editor:

When it comes to the Energy East pipeline, there is no getting around the fact this project represents benefits for North Bay and district, for Ontario and for all of Canada. The project will support thousands of jobs right here and across the country, and will provide a much-needed way to transport Canadian oil to Canadian customers in eastern Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and for export around the world.

It has been shown that pipelines are the safest way to move oil over long distances. Energy East can help reduce the number of the high-risk rail cars and transports that travel through our community every day and that are in much closer proximity to our water supply.

From a business standpoint, Energy East is a great opportunity, especially for North Bay.
A study by the Conference Board of Canada shows the project will generate nearly 4,000 full-time jobs every year during development and construction, across Ontario. TransCanada has already stated it is committed to local hiring and procurement, and that means additional jobs and opportunities for companies and workers right here in North Bay.

TransCanada has been in North Bay for more than 60 years and today has more than 80 employees in our city. Last year, TransCanada paid $2 million in property taxes to city hall and it has regularly supported local causes as a part of our community for years. TransCanada has done business with a many local businesses and we expect to see that number to grow with Energy East.

The North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce supports the Energy East project for all the reasons we outlined above, but we are very mindful as all others in North Bay, that this project ensures proper safety precautions are taken to protect our environment, especially Trout Lake.

In our meetings with TransCanada, and in their many public open houses held in North Bay over the past two years, the team from Energy East has provided very detailed plans on the many safety features being planned for the pipeline project. We will continue to add our voice to this important discussion and ensure that North Bay’s natural beauty is protected, but we will do so in a constructive way.

Planners of Energy East have publicly acknowledged Trout Lake is considered a sensitive area and have committed to putting in place measures to protect our water, including additional shut-off valves in the event of an emergency.

From our perspective, Energy East represents a true opportunity and we would also be playing a pivotal role in helping to safely transport Canadian resources to eastern Canadian refineries that currently rely on foreign imported oil to stay in business.

In short, Energy East is safer than the status quo, and will bring real, long-term opportunity to North Bay and to all of Ontario for years to come. That is why we support this project, done right and done safely.

Jake Lacourse

president, North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce

North Bay Nugget, Letter to the Editor, Thursday, April 28, 2016 11:26:20 EDT PM, as posted at http://www.nugget.ca/2016/04/28/chamber-supports-project-done-right-and-done-safely

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TransCanada says Energy East pipeline path still flexible (April 2016)

EDMUNSTON, N.B. — The president of the Energy East Project says plans are still negotiable when it comes to the path that any west-to-east pipeline would take.

This concession comes after Edmunston’s mayor and council said it strongly opposed the project’s current projected path, which runs through the city’s watershed.

“Over the last two to three years, we’ve actually been working very closely with Edmundston, listening and talking to the route, and we are more than open to continue those discussions,” said Energy East President John Soini.

TransCanada says it has been flexible over worries in Edmunston before, and will continue to be flexible moving forward.

“We’ve been working very closely with Edmundston since the beginning of the project,” said Soini. “We have adjusted the route based on input we’ve received, and we will continue to work with the community to come up with the best possible route that works for the project and for the community.”

Premier Brian Gallant spoke Thursday afternoon in Fredericton before the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association. He defended the project, but said opposition is to be expected.

“I think it’s important that we all be very open to having any community that has any concerns, suggestions, or questions, to be encouraged to do so,” said Gallant.

Edmundston is the latest Canadian municipality to formally oppose the project.

“It’s a challenge for the industry no doubt, and we’re responding to those challenges,” said Kent Wilfur of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.

The mayor of Edmunston was not available for comment today.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore. CTV Atlantic, Last Updated Thursday, April 28, 2016 8:58PM ADT, as posted at http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/transcanada-says-energy-east-pipeline-path-still-flexible-1.2879849

Pipelines and politics, how the debate has shifted in Canada (April 2016)

It will take more than political will to get projects approved in Canada.

If you pay any attention at all to the pipeline debate in Canada, it has become clear there has been a change in tone in the past few weeks.

Alberta’s premier Rachel Notley was invited to pitch pipelines to the federal cabinet when it met in Kananaskis, Alta. this week. After that meeting, Calgary cabinet minister Kent Hehr told a reporter the table was set in terms of getting oil to tidewater.

Without being explicit about it, the federal government has sent the message that it’s serious about getting an export pipeline built.

Industry is delighted. The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association sent out a cheery news release in relation to a National Post story suggesting pipelines were now on the front burner for the Trudeau government, even though the story quoted unnamed government sources and has never been confirmed.

That’s how hungry the energy industry is for good news.

​But as anyone who has followed the pipeline story over the past half decade knows, wanting a pipeline is not enough. After all, no one doubts Stephen Harper really wanted pipelines built. Fat lot of good that did him.

Why the change in tone

No one doubts the Canadian economy has taken a hit from the drop in energy prices. It slipped into recession in the first half of 2015 and the recovery since has been choppy.

A memo prepared for the federal Department of Finance and released to CBC News through an Access to Information request showed that as oilsands growth continues to slow, so will the Canadian economy.

“Incremental growth in the oilsands may be held back by uncertainty over export capacity, as current pipeline capacity is full,” read the note.

Canada has no control over the level of oil prices but does have control over market access, which would help Canadian oil producers fetch a higher price for their products.

At the same time, the federal government has an ambitious spending program that needs to be paid for with a strong economy.

READ FULL STORY

By Tracy Johnson, CBC News Posted: Apr 27, 2016 5:00 AM MT| Last Updated: Apr 27, 2016 6:49 AM MT as posted at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/pipeline-approval-politics-1.3552494

TransCanada to produce Energy East environmental impact study: Quebec ( April 2016)

TransCanada has heeded the Quebec government’s request for a deeper review of Energy East, agreeing to provide more detailed information about the pipeline project.

Environment Minister David Heurtel says the Calgary-based company filed paperwork as required under Quebec’s Environment Quality Act and will have to produce an impact study by June 6.

Friday’s announcement also puts on hold a review process conducted by Quebec’s environmental review agency.

A second round of Energy East public hearings that was scheduled to begin Monday was postponed by Heurtel with a statement thanking participants for their contributions.

The first hearings before the BAPE (the French-language acronym for the environment review body) wrapped up in March with citizens from across the province grilling TransCanada (TSX:TRP) executives on the risks and costs associated with the pipeline.

Energy East would bring 1.1 million barrels of oil a day from Alberta and Saskatchewan through Quebec and into News Brunswick for overseas shipping.

The 4,600-kilometre project includes existing TransCanada pipeline as far east as Montreal, plus new pipeline to be constructed through Quebec.

The project has run into stiff opposition in Quebec, with politicians, citizens and ecologists questioning whether the environmental risks outweigh the economic rewards.

Friday’s agreement could end an impending legal fight between the two: the province had filed an injunction to force TransCanada to be subjected to the more rigorous review process.

Other environmental groups who were also asking for an injunction were lumped in with the province’s request.

READ FULL STORY


SIDHARTHA BANERJEE, MONTREAL — The Canadian Press, Last updated Friday, Apr. 22, 2016 5:58PM EDT, as posted at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/transcanada-to-produce-energy-east-environmental-impact-study-quebec-says/article29728353/

Edmundston ‘strongly opposes’ current Energy East pipeline route (April 2016)

Mayor Cyrille Simard said city council didn’t take opposition to pipeline route lightly. Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard says the city’s water source is not negotiable.

The city of Edmundston says it’s against the proposed routing of the Energy East pipeline and will ask the National Energy Board to divert the project away from its municipal water source.

City council has voted unanimously to adopt that position, even as questions persist about how changes to the NEB process will affect hearings on the pipeline.

Mayor Cyrille Simard says the pipeline route passes through the watershed for the Iroquois River, which the city relies on for two thirds of its water supply. The city also uses that water to supply the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation within its municipal boundaries.

“The risk is minimal, we know that. But the impact in the event of a spill is too important,” Simard said.

READ FULL STORY.

By Jacques Poitras, CBC News Posted: Apr 27, 2016 12:01 PM AT Last Updated: Apr 27, 2016 4:00 PM AT http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/edmundston-energy-east-opposition-1.3555076

Quebec Environmentalists to spend summer rallying opposition to pipeline, BAPE hearing to resume in October (April 2016)

Ecological groups hope that a six-month delay in public hearings will give them time to rally opposition to the Energy East pipeline.
Last week TransCanada agreed to file paperwork with Quebec’s Environmental Review Board (BAPE), and so the commission postponed public hearings until October.

Eric Pineault, a sociology professor from l’Université de Montreal, is glad for the delay, saying it will give the public time to get informed about the project.

Pineault, who opposes the pipeline, published a book on Wednesday that he hopes activists will use to argue against the pipeline.
His book, Non au piege Energie Est (No to the Energy East trap), is full of arguments opposed to further tar sands development.
Pineault argues that Canadians and Quebecers should be investing in other energy technology.

“We have to look at renewables, we have to look at investing massively in these renewables,” said Pineault.

“We have to wean ourselves off the oil sands rent. It doesn’t mean stopping tomorrow morning everything, it means stopping the projects that expand, that create the pressure to expand the extraction.”

Energy East would bring 1.1 million barrels of oil a day from Alberta and Saskatchewan through Quebec and into News Brunswick for overseas shipping.

The final report on Energy East should be delivered by the National Energy Board in March 2018.

CTV Montreal, Last Updated Wednesday, April 27, 2016 1:03PM EDT, as posted at http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/environmentalists-to-spend-summer-rallying-opposition-to-pipeline-1.2877116

Prime minister, premier talk about EI and pipelines during Saskatchewan visit (April 2016)

SASKATOON — The prime minister pushed back Wednesday at federal Conservatives critical of his position on pipelines, as he visited Saskatchewan where the premier is pressing for action.

Low energy prices are battering the province’s economy and have Premier Brad Wall’s government in the red, but Justin Trudeau opted to repeat his often-used line that the Conservatives had years to build a pipeline while in government and couldn’t get it done.

“I have been crystal clear for years now on pipelines,” Trudeau while visiting a First Nations high school in Saskatoon.

“One of the fundamental responsibilities of any Canadian prime minister — and this goes back centuries, from grain on railroads to fish and fur — is to get Canadian resources to international markets.

“But what the Conservatives still refuse to understand is that in order to get our resources to market in the 21st century, we have to be responsible around the environment. We have to respect concerns that communities have and we have to build partnerships with indigenous peoples.”

Trudeau said the best way to get a pipeline built is to co-operate with communities and First Nations along the route and to listen to their concerns.

Wall said he knows the federal government has its own review process, but the premier said he believes Trudeau “is uniquely positioned to be a champion” for pipelines in Canada.

The premier said he was encouraged by the chat with Trudeau.

“I don’t think I got platitudes today. I think there was sincerity in the prime minister’s desire to get some pipelines approved to move product to tidewater,” said Wall.

“I also said I’d continue to speak out for pipelines and on the face of these pipelines, especially Energy East, it makes eminent good sense for Canada to approve this, to give us a chance to displace the need to import foreign oil, to give us a chance to get a better value for our product, to see the jobs created by the pipeline, to make sure there’s less oil on rail — which is not as safe as oil in a pipeline — and he indicated that he fully expected people to make that case and I’ll be doing that.”

Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose was also in Saskatchewan this week and accused Trudeau of waffling on support for pipelines since last year’s federal election. She said the pipeline approval process is vague and creates too much uncertainty in the oil industry, which translates into more job losses.

The Council of Canadians and other groups said in an open letter Wednesday to Trudeau that any pipeline review must include true consultations with aboriginal communities.

But the letter, while acknowledging that the economies and workforces of Alberta and Canada have been hit hard by a downturn in the energy sector, also cautioned Trudeau not to cave to pressure to build new pipelines.

“Adding new pipelines will not solve economic woes caused by instability in world oil markets and a world that is rapidly — and necessarily — transitioning away from fossil fuels in order to safeguard our climate for future generations.”

The letter, which was also signed by Greenpeace Canada, argued that pipeline projects “present significant risks not only to our shared climate, but to critical waterways along their paths.”

Wall also pushed for expanded employment insurance benefits.

The premier has praised extensions to EI coverage in 12 areas hit hard by the resource downturn, including northern Saskatchewan. But he’s also said Ottawa made a mistake when it didn’t include workers in southern Saskatchewan’s oil-producing regions.

Wall said he will take Trudeau “at his word” that the situation is being monitored and there might be a chance of extending the benefits.

Wall also said Trudeau assured him the federal government is committed to reducing the gap between what the province provides in education funding off-reserve and what Ottawa pays for on-reserve.

Trudeau did not take questions after the private chat with Wall, but called it “a wonderfully positive meeting.”

Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press, 27 April 2016, as posted at https://www.sudbury.com/national/prime-minister-premier-talk-about-ei-and-pipelines-during-saskatchewan-visit-287302