Energy issues on the agenda at Canada's premiers' meeting
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter addresses a news conference in Halifax. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Tuesday, July 24, 2012 6:41PM ADT
Canada’s premiers will be in Nova Scotia Wednesday for the Council of the Federation and it seems energy issues have the best chance of both uniting and dividing the country.
The agenda includes a proposed Pan-Canadian Energy Strategy that may bring our region within reach of oil production in Western Canada.
Oil trains from the western United States have become regular callers, as Irving Oil brings less expensive North American oil to the Saint John refinery. Some say it is further proof of the need for a pipeline linking east and west, moving Alberta crude to the east coast.
Meeting chairman, Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter, says the pipeline idea may be part of a larger discussion.
“I think they’re talking about energy security for the country and I think we all want to see, to the degree that it’s possible, that we have domestic energy security,” says Dexter.
Environmentalists predict the premiers will be promoting fossil fuels and little else.
“You wonder and you question whether there will be any emphasis on alternative fuels, on conservation, other transitional fuels. Why all this hype over fossil fuels?” says Gordon Dalzell of the Saint John Clean Air Coalition.
The premiers are going to discuss a national energy strategy, but it is unclear whether they will throw their support behind the proposed east west pipeline to Atlantic Canada. The debate comes at a time when the energy industry in this region is changing faster than anyone could have imagined a few years ago.
Spanish energy giant Repsol is considering selling the L.N.G. terminal in Saint John, which was completed only three years ago. The price of natural gas has plunged and the terminal is operating far below capacity.
The Imperial Oil refinery in Dartmouth is for sale and may eventually be closed.
Irving oil is building a major facility to unload the oil trains near the refinery, but the company has remained silent about the future of the facility.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron