What Killed the Energy East Pipeline?

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In the fall, TransCanada Corporation announced that it was pulling the plug on its Energy East Pipeline and Eastern Mainline Projects, to the dismay of their supporters and the delight of their detractors. As ACW Co-investigator Warren Mabee of Queen’s University argues, the reasons for Energy East’s demise are more complicated than they might appear.

Map of pipeline


In his media release on October 5, TransCanada President and Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling declared that, “After careful review of changed circumstances, we will be informing the National Energy Board that we will no longer be proceeding with our Energy East and Eastern Mainline applications.”

Girlings’s remarks pointed the finger at the federal regulatory system for the cancellation of the projects. Others piled on.

Conservative Party Leader Andrew Sheer took to Twitter to blame Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying: “He’s added new hurdles to Canadian energy producers that don’t apply to foreign companies selling into Canada.” Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall blamed the Liberals for Energy East’s demise because they “moved the goalposts at the last moment by asking the regulator to consider the impact of upstream greenhouse gas emissions.”

On the other side, a coalition of environmentalists, municipalities and indigenous groups that opposed the projects were celebrating a victory. “Both the Northern Gateway fight and this Energy East one show that when First Nations stand together, supported by non-Indigenous allies, we win,” Grand Chief Serge Simon of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake told the CBC.

But Queen’s University’s Warren Mabee poses the question in a recent article on TheConversation.com, “Did regulation kill Energy East?”

“In many ways, this mega-project would have been the most ambitious infrastructure build ever undertaken in Canada, surpassing the political difficulties associated with the construction of the national railways at the end of 19th century,” writes Mabee.

At more than 4,500 kilometres, the project would have been the longest pipeline in the country, requiring the co-operation among the federal government, six provinces, 75 municipalities and more than 50 First Nations as it spanned the continent from Alberta to New Brunswick.

So, did regulation kill Energy East? “Many other factors also hurt its chances of getting the green light,” concludes Mabee, adding a new perspective to what is sure to be an ongoing debate over the future of pipelines in Canada.

Read more on TheConversation.com