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Energy East

Instead of trying to diversify Alberta's economy according to the global markets of the 21st century, Mr. Kenney is trying to find a scapegoat.
As the year draws to a close, it's worth looking back at some of the public policy issues that made headlines over the past 12 months, and that have a good chance of being in the news during the next 12 as well.
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.
Ezra Levant is angry with the NO delivered to Energy East from the 82 mayors of Montreal's Urban Community to TransCanada Pipelines last January, and is accusing Mayor Coderre of favouring "Shariah" petroleum by saying NO to the "ethical" petroleum of Canada. But there is an important major flaw in Mr. Levant's argument.
On the TV news and in newspapers, we have seen that a pipeline, property of Husky Oil, has spilled more than 200,000 litres of petroleum in the North Saskatchewan River. The oil slick is rapidly moving downstream, polluting the river bottom as well as the drinking water of wildlife, livestock and the citizens living in its watershed.
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.
Energy East is more than a mere pipe that transports the product from point A to point B. It is an essential link of the industry. It is clear that Energy East is co-responsible for all the GHG produced by the 1,100,000 barrels that will travel through this pipeline on a daily basis.
Last week marked the 10th anniversary of An Inconvenient Truth, the Al Gore documentary that catapulted climate change onto the global agenda. Here's a quick look at developments over the past decade, both the inconvenient and the convenient.
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.
The reality is that you can't have a legitimate discussion about the topic of oil without considering the ethics underlying our oil supply. Regardless of branding, ethical sourcing has to be part of the discussion. As a pragmatic environmentalist seeking only to ensure a healthy economy on a healthy planet, I would be remiss if I ignored the topic for such an inane reason.
In the beginning of the 21st century, should Canada, an industrial nation of the G8, have a diversified, knowledge-based economy? Or will we allow ourselves to again become a ''company town," an economic dinosaur at the mercy of the price fluctuations of the market?
Raising the minimum wage, diversifying Alberta's economy and supporting working people have my full support, but I'm sorry Premier Notley, I just can't get behind you on pipelines. New pipelines aren't good for the environment, they aren't good for the climate, and I'm sorry, but they aren't good for working people or good governance, either.
Two degrees is the absolute red line that scientists say the world must not pass if we are to have any chance of stopping a growing climate crisis before it spins beyond our control. The 2-degree mark was only breached temporarily but it is a worrying sign that everyone, especially our elected leaders, need to pay attention to.
Several municipal leaders in the Greater Montreal area have already deemed the pipeline too environmentally risky.
There is a catechism of the fossil fuel industry, with oft-repeated claims that seem by repetition to escape examination. Peter MacKay's recent opinion piece on pipelines was a veritable greatest hits compilation of such claims. He writes that "pipelines are by far the safest means of transporting oil." The first muddying of facts is the notion that we are talking about shipping oil. All the current pipeline proposals, including Energy East, are primarily about shipping unprocessed bitumen. Bitumen is in a pre-crude state and can only be casually referenced as "oil" if one accepted the idea that grain should be referred to as "croissants" when discussing markets.
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.
When TransCanada first announced its 4400km Energy East pipeline project from Alberta to Saint John, the spin was all about nation-building. This spin is dependent on the idea that Energy East will see crude produced in the Prairies replace so-called foreign imports to Atlantic Canada.
The prime minister's "absolutely" answer in October comes back.