Energy East Pipeline: Canada’s Keystone causes concern

From EarthTalk
Answers about the Environment

The Energy East Pipeline is a $12 billion project proposed by TransCanada Corp. that will combine existing, converted natural gas pipelines with new pipeline construction to carry oil some 2,800 miles across Canada from Alberta’s tar sands fields to export terminals in Quebec and New Brunswick. Unlike TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline proposal, which aims to transport oil from Alberta to Nebraska, Energy East would not directly cross into the U.S. But environmentalists on both sides of the border are concerned since Energy East would transport 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil a day—25 percent more than Keystone XL—and will be the longest oil pipeline on the continent.

The proposed eastward extension to the TransCanada Pipeway would pass through portions of the Great Lakes Basin, putting the lakes and adjacent waterways at risk in the event of a spill according to environmental groups. Map from Watershed Sentinel (Canada)
The proposed eastward extension to the TransCanada Pipeway would pass through portions of the Great Lakes Basin, putting the lakes and adjacent waterways at risk in the event of a spill according to environmental groups. Map from Watershed Sentinel (Canada)

Just as Keystone XL has been shrouded in controversy and debate in the U.S., Energy East faces fierce opposition in Canada, where groups like Environmental Defence and the Council of Canadians believe the pipeline threatens both sensitive ecosystems and populated areas with the risk of a spill. According to the report “Liquid Pipeline: Extreme Energy’s Threat to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River,” by Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, Energy East would cross the northern end of the Great Lakes, including the St. Lawrence River Basin watershed, threatening many water systems along the way.

“In its preliminary project description filed with the National Energy Board in March 2014, TransCanada outlined details about its plans to build a port in Cacouna, Quebec, just north of Rivière-de-Loup on the St. Lawrence River,” the report states. “Local residents are very concerned that any accidents involving either the pipeline or marine shipments along this route would put the already endangered beluga whale population at greater risk.”

For its part, TransCanada says that it “understands the important role all aquifers, rivers and lakes play in maintaining sensitive and vital ecosystems across Canada,” but asserts that “pipelines remain the safest, most efficient and most environmentally friendly mode of transporting energy across the continent.” Before the Energy East pipeline goes into service, TransCanada plans to clean and thoroughly inspect the converted section of the pipeline. The company has also promised to avoid crossings of important water bodies to minimize disturbances of sensitive aquatic ecosystems. Highly-trained technical staff in TransCanada’s control center would monitor the pipeline 24/7.

While construction and maintenance of the Energy East pipeline would create some 14,000 jobs during its first seven years while providing upwards of $7.6 billion in tax revenue to pay for schools, roads and other public services across Canada, many Canadians remain concerned that a spill could threaten or destroy their livelihoods.

Regardless of these concerns, TransCanada is currently working to get final regulatory approval from Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) to start work on Energy East and hopes to have construction completed by the end of 2018. Environmentalists are still holding out hope that NEB will reject Energy East on environmental and/or socio-economic grounds, and continues to drum up support across Canada and beyond for shelving the beleaguered pipeline.

One thought on “Energy East Pipeline: Canada’s Keystone causes concern

  • March 19, 2015 at 11:40 am
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    While it is fully understandable that Americans possess the rights to unfairly prevent the development of Keystone XL and the movement of the largest deposit of marketable fossil fuels in North America to US Gulf Coast refineries. They do not possess the same rights to development of a Canadian resource on Canadian soil, regardless of the end user.
    If Americans can not see the huge benefits of transporting Alberta oil to US refineries then don think for a second you will prevent us from refining and marketing our resource elsewhere.
    We all know that if this resource resided under US soil it would have been on its way to the Gulf coast long ago. The prevention of Keystone XL is just another typical American double standard. And masking the lack of any decision with supposed environmental concerns is just another use of American propaganda on its own people. Not to mention the orchestrated reluctance of the Obama administration to actually make a decision solely on the basis of the effect it would have on the history of his presidency. So postpone and delay a decision so the hot potato will be passed on to whoever wins in 2016.
    Canadians will continue to recover, refine and market the most important resource in North America with or without Americans. We are sick and tired of the baseless delays regarding Keystone XL and now we are planning to do what we should have done from day one, develop it and market it on our own.

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