TransCanada Cancels Energy East Oilsands Pipeline

Pauline Gross
October 6, 2017

TransCanada (TRP.TO) said it is terminating plans for the Energy East pipeline "after careful review of changed circumstances". "So that's two tar sands expanding mega-pipelines stopped in their tracks but it will be a hollow victory if either Kinder Morgan, Line 3 or Keystone XL are allowed to steamroll over Indigenous opposition and serve as an outlet for even more climate-killing tar sands production".

TransCanada will also notify Quebec's Ministère du Developpement durable, de l'Environnement, et Lutte contre les changements climatiques that it is withdrawing the Energy East project from the environmental review process.

Supporters of the Calgary-based company's project - which would build and operate a 4,500-kilometre pipeline from Alberta to the East Coast - are casting the blame on costs and delays from federal government regulatory meddling, while other point to simple market forces.

The Canadian National Energy Board told the company in late August that the projects' environmental reviews would look at the total lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the projects - including from extracting, processing, transporting, refining, and eventually burning the fossil fuels.

"Obviously it's not great that they've canceled the project, but overall I think it was anticipated", said Manash Goswami, a Portfolio Manager with First Asset Investment Management Inc.

The B.C. government doesn't share her view, however, and is now part of a court challenge against Trans Mountain being heard this week.

Energy East was up for its second NEB review, after the first stalled past year amid protests by environmentalists and after revelations that regulatory panel members met privately with a TransCanada consultant. Where charges of environmental negligence followed the approvals of the Trans Mountain and Line 3 projects, this time the government was savaged for being soft on jobs and economic growth.

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TransCanada's decision is also a blow to the ailing economy of New Brunswick province, where the pipeline would have terminated. The construction of the Energy East pipeline was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The federal government is now in the process of permanent environmental assessment reform, including the modernization of the National Energy Board with announcements "in the not too distant future", said Carr.

Picard is a signatory to the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, a coalition of 150 tribes in Canada and the United States fighting against any and all oilsands pipeline projects.

He did say, though, that the country needs to better understand why the pipeline was cancelled.

But the company in recent years has dealt with a fall in the price of crude oil, which is now hovering around $50 a barrel, down from almost $100 a barrel in mid-2014.

"Make no mistake, other companies' decisions to invest in Canada will be informed by this debacle".

"This was an investor decision that resulted from the low global price of oil".

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