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Energy East pipeline cancellation sparks anger, satisfaction across the Maritimes
An Atlantic Canadian pipe dream came to an abrupt end first thing Thursday morning, and it’s sparked plenty of reaction.
In a short news release, energy giant TransCanada announced it will not go forward with plans to build the massive Energy East pipeline. The $15-billion project would have seen Alberta oil piped to Saint John for processing and export.
"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," TransCanada said in a statement.
The company did not elaborate on those changed circumstances.
Pipeline reversal discourages political leaders
New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said recent changes to world market conditions and the price of oil negatively impacted viability of the project.
Still, Gallant is calling the decision disappointing.
“We understand that there has to be a robust, independent and exhaustive process to look at these things,” Gallant said, “but there’s no doubt that we as a country have to ask ourselves at one point, how can we do that and all the while make sure we can make these types of decisions in a more timely fashion?”
Former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna said he felt a “profound sense of sadness for Canada” following the decision.
“I think the burden just became too much to bear for any company,” said McKenna. “This is systematic of what we’re seeing in resources across the country.”
The National Energy Board ordered a wider analysis of the impact on greenhouse gases. As a result, some civic leaders don't blame TransCanada for pulling out.
"I think they faced a tremendous uphill battle to get this project approved, and I personally think that is a shame," said Saint John Mayor Don Darling.
Nova Scotia Liberal Premier Stephen McNeil also weighed in.
“I think anytime you bring a resource across the country and in the process share it with Canadians, but also provide another export market, I've said this all along, when you look at commodities that we have, the more customers we have for those commodities, it’s better for the price, which in turn comes back to people of the province,” said McNeil.
New Brunswick's official Opposition, who got the ball rolling on Energy East when in power, is blaming premiers in central Canada – as well as Premier Brian Gallant -- for the project falling apart.
“When was there a fight for New Brunswick in making this come through?” New Brunswick PC Leader Blain Higgs asks. “Premier Gallant sided with the Quebec premier and the Ontario premier on the changing of the regulations in terms of validating whether the pipeline could go forward or not. So that happened from the start.”
Environmentalists celebrate TransCanada decision
Environmentalists and other opponents say the pipeline was an investment in an outdated form of energy, and a disaster waiting to happen.
"We were David. We were fighting against Goliath and David won," said Saint John resident Lynaya Astephen, who lives across the street from where the pipeline’s tank farm would have went.
Astephen said Thursday’s decision from TransCanada has finally brought her some peace of mind.
"Every time I looked out the window I wondered, is it going to be safe for me to stay here? “(Are) my neighbours across the street going to be able to breathe? And I think the answer today is yes. We're safe here. Our homes are safe," said Astephen.
New Brunswick Green Party Leader David Coon said the Paris Climate Agreement changed everything.
“They see the writing on the wall now. They made the proposal before the Paris accord in 2013. There has been a seismic shift as a result of the Paris accord and we're seeing it reflected in future markets for oil and gas,” Coon said.
New Brunswick Conservation Council executive director Lois Corbett is calling the reversal a moment to remember.
“It’s good news. We've turned the page on old, yesterday ideas about continuing to invest in fossil fuels like dirty tar sands oil and we're moving on to the sustainable economies of today and tomorrow,” said Corbett.
David Duplisea of the Greater Saint John Chamber of Commerce said government is “using red herrings” when attributing changing market conditions to Energy East’s demise.
“That's not the case at all. Although market conditions have changed, it's not a significant factor in this decision," said Duplisea.
Under the project's original schedule, oil was supposed to be flowing this fall from Alberta to Saint John’s Irving Oil refinery, and to a new marine export terminal that was to be built on the Bay of Fundy.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron and Nick Moore.