As the month of August draws to a close, the National Energy Board (NEB) begins its hearings on the Energy East pipeline project amidst a swirl of controversy. But the most objectionable aspect of the hearings of the NEB is the fact that it is engulfed in a sea of questionable ethical considerations.
I think I'm reasonably well versed in issues surrounding the Energy East Pipeline, both economic and environmental. But I am struck by how, in any official TransCanada communications about environmental implications of the project, climate change is never mentioned.
President Obama rejected Keystone XL because he was convinced it was not "in the best interest" of his country. Unhappy with this decision, TransCanada Pipelines chose to directly challenge the sovereignty of the government of the United States with this $15-billion lawsuit.
It sometimes sounds as though pipeline proponents are the true environmentalists among us. Commentary in favour of the pipelines has followed suit with generous explanations of our current needs and the realities of energy consumption. They ask: are opponents of the pipelines in denial about our current reliance on fossil fuels? And if these bleeding hearts do admit that we do need fossil fuels to power our country, are they comfortable importing Saudi oil forever? I believe that such questions willfully miss the point.
If the pipelines are not approved, Alberta will suffer a huge fall, perhaps a kind of collapse. The Canadian economy will take a hit. But it will also turn us away from the unsustainable direction fostered by the last government. New, cleaner industries more befitting an educated, technologically advanced Canada will continue to be developed and in time produce economic growth. They won't make us rich right now, or in this election cycle, but it is a certainty that the alternative energy sector is not going away; in fact, it is a certainty that it will take over.
When Mayor Denis Coderre, the spokeman of the 82 municipalities of Montreal 's Urban Community, said "no" to TransCanada's Energy East pipeline, there was an uproar in Western Canada. Many, including Premier Brad Wall and Rick Mercer made wild accusations, saying this was a national unity question.
With the December Paris climate agreement, leaders and experts from around the world showed they overwhelmingly accept that human-caused climate change is real and the need to curb emissions. In light of this, I don't get the current brouhaha over Kinder Morgan, Keystone XL, Northern Gateway or the Energy East pipelines.
Blinded by the push to build unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure, politicians and pundits are drowning the conversation we need to have -- how to make the necessary shift to a 100 per cent clean energy economy. Politicians need to realize that in 2016, massive fossil fuel infrastructure is a wrongheaded place to invest -- both financially and politically.
I know that the term "ethical oil" has some blemishes on it because of issues surrounding its origin, but I believe in the concept behind the term. I want my personal gasoline purchases to go towards subsidizing medicare and not subsidizing a despot or paying for a tyrant to bomb his neighbour.
Energy East wants to force the Canadian economy in this 19th century straight-jacket for the next 40 years. As a member of the G8, we need an economy based on know-how, renewable energies, manufacturing as well as refining our natural resources. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre is right in rejecting TransCanada's antiquated project.
If Keystone XL were built, it would produce 110 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year, which is incompatible with effective U.S. action to cut climate pollution. Ultimately, the loser isn't the big bad Americans; it's our environment, and the right of governments to protect it for their citizens.
In a press release dated Dec. 18, TransCanada announced that "support for Energy East is growing across Canada." Did I read that right, or is this merely a wish list that TransCanada has sent to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve? TC seems to believe that social acceptability is on the rise!
As the debate raged and the cross-border rhetoric went nuclear over Keystone XL, the good folks at Enbridge were craftily and quietly shipping hundreds of thousands of barrels per day of tar sands bitumen from Alberta. This line, cavalierly called the Alberta Clipper, which at first shipped 450,000 barrels a day from the tar sands is designed to carry an astounding 800,000 barrels a day to Illinois.
The U.S. decision on Keystone XL sent a clear message: Tar sands pipeline projects like the ones currently under consideration or subject to litigation in Canada -- TransCanada's Energy East Pipeline, Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion Project, and Enbridge's Northern Gateway Project -- are not the way of the future.
Blinders are often used to keep horses racing in a straight line and free from distraction. However, some horse race experts argue that true competitors want to see what's coming. They say expanding the field of vision expands possibilities. Blinders are fine if you're doing the same thing over and over like going around a track but adapting to a new set of circumstances requires you to see the whole context.
Keystone was a fight that no one thought we could win. When the pipeline was first proposed, every energy analyst, every journalist and every politician either had never heard of it or thought the same thing -- the pipeline was a virtual certainty and its approval was imminent.