Harper should take lead with Energy East pipeline, Sask. premier says
Michelle Zilio, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, November 30, 2014 1:31PM EST
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take leadership in supporting TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline, saying the massive project is a “national issue.”
Wall made the comments on CTV’s Question Period, following a unanimous motion in the Saskatchewan legislature earlier this week calling for the removal of what he describes as “barriers” to the Energy East pipeline.
“We want the federal government to lead on this. We think it’s fundamentally important. This (National Energy Board approval process) is a national process, a federal process that’s prescribed,” said Wall.
The proposed 4,600-kilometre pipeline will carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada. TransCanada wants to convert the current natural-gas pipeline, which ends in eastern Ontario, to oil service, and add new pipe in order to deliver crude to Quebec and New Brunswick.
While Wall would like to see the project move forward via the National Energy Board’s (NEB) normal regulatory process, the governments of Ontario and Quebec have some environmental concerns they want to see addressed -- specifically the contribution of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the pipeline.
“It seems to me that Ontario and Quebec, in this regard, want to set a certain standard for our own oil that’s higher than the standard we might apply to the oil that we’re importing from foreign places,” said Wall.
The Saskatchewan premier also warned about the possible precedent stemming from said GHG requirement. He said the “conditions” are in addition to the NEB’s normally process.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, speaking with Question Period, said the “principles” that her and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard agreed to, including the GHG requirement, are just that – not “conditions,” as Wall has described them.
“I’m not sure why he (Wall) would be framing what Premier Couillard and Premier Prentice and I are talking about as obstacles because that’s not at all the intention,” said Wynne. “We need to talk about considering the greenhouse gas emissions, as we do with other projects across the country.”
Wynne will meet with Alberta Premier Jim Prentice Tuesday to discuss the Energy East pipeline, one day after Prentice is scheduled to meet with Couillard. Wynne said her talks with Prentice have been “constructive” to date, and that she hopes to have an equally productive conversation with Wall on the pipeline.
“I think that there’s a lot of common ground in terms of the way the Energy East project needs to go ahead,” said Wynne.
Going forward, Wall warned of complacency in regards to Energy East.
“The risk not saying anything, of complacency, we saw that in Keystone, where I think industry and government were a bit flat-footed and got behind in that particular debate and discussion. I just don’t want to risk complacency or silence.”
TransCanada submitted its 30,000-page application for the $12-billion project last month. The NEB regulatory process is expected to last 18 months.
With files from the Canadian Press