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Would a Northern Gateway Pipeline and West-to-East Pipeline Be Good for Canada?

by July 1, 2013
filed under Activism
Topics ,

British Columbia has officially communicated that it doesn’t support the construction of the Northern Gateway Pipeline, however, the non-existence of this pipeline that would run between Alberta and B.C., could have consequences for not only Albertans and British Columbians but also the whole of Canada. New Brunswick Premier, David Alward suggests that British Columbia’s opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline redirects and puts more focus on a proposed pipeline that would run all the way from Alberta to the eastern coast of Canada (as far as Saint Johns, New Brunswick).

David and Alberta Premier, Alison Redford came together on June 7th to discuss the development of the west-to-east pipeline that they believe will create jobs and ensure greater energy security for the country. David contends that the need to undertake a pipeline project in British Columbia is still equal to the country’s need for an easterly running pipeline, despite B.C.’s firm stance on the Northern Gateway Pipeline. However, until the federal government approves the Alberta-B.C project, David believes that the easterly running Energy East Pipeline would be beneficial not only for two provinces, in this case Alberta and New Brunswick, but for all of Canada. Geoff Hill, a national oil and gas sector leader at Deloitte Canada, believes it is important for Canada to fortify its access to markets for its oil. He agreed with David that a west-to-east pipeline should exist along with the Northern Gateway Pipeline and that both of “these projects need to be considered Canadian projects as opposed to provincial projects because the fundamental economics say that, let alone the fact that as a country we need to set this as a priority.”

On June 7th Premier Alison Redford delivered a speech to New Brunswick’s legislature in favor of the Energy East Pipeline before heading to Saint John to tour the Irving Oil refinery just as David had toured Alberta’s tar sands earlier this year. Alison, in part, substantiated her support for the Energy East Pipeline by explaining that the lack of direct access Alberta currently has to oceanic shipping routes contributed to the province’s 6 billion dollar decrease in revenues this year. Alison’s speech came days before the June 17th deadline set by TransCanada Corporation to attain requisite commitments to the Energy

East project from oil producers. Confirmation of these commitments are a prerequisite for the corporation’s conversion of an existent natural gas pipeline into one that can carry crude into Quebec and the extension of this pipeline into Saint John. This pipeline could begin shipping as much as 850 000 barrels of oil a day to the east coast by 2017. David and Alison’s responses to the project suggest that they are confident in its commencement.  As David said, “collectively, across the country, leaders get it: How this project makes sense for Canada.” It would appear as though Alison and David view this pipeline as a necessary investment.

I personally, do not necessarily agree with the construction of any pipelines. I think that there are many factors that need to be considered with respect to the Northern Gateway and Energy East Pipeline proposals, not the least of which are environmental factors (as opposed to just economic factors). As much money as these pipelines may bring to the provinces of Alberta, New Brunswick, British Columbia and Canada as a whole, lots of money is also needed to maintain pipelines in order to mitigate the effects of time and attempt to prevent oil leaks.

These leaks can have a huge impact on surrounding animals and their habitats by killing living things and destroying homes. As was demonstrated by the Exxon Oil leak in the U.S. earlier this year, leaking oil can also have an impact on people, their health and the value of their homes. The BP oil spill of 2010, one of the worst oil spills in history, dumped millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and affected wildlife so extensively that the health of the surrounding environment may be compromised for years to come . Attempts at rectifying oil spills are expensive and it can take years to return the natural environment to its original state.

Yes, economically the Northern Gateway and west-to-east pipelines could benefit the vast majority of the country but if that’s at the expense of our equally vast pristine nature, clean water and safe homes, I fully agree with B.C’s opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline, a small step in the direction of environmental stewardship. As well as the first step in combatting a project whose potential repercussions could be made more pervasive – but equally potent – in the form of an (almost) cross-country oil pipeline.

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