Energy East would not have reduced foreign oil imports

On Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 in Debate, Parliament

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, the member for Banff—Airdrie’s speech was premised on many things that he may believe to be true but that are not true.

There was no plan to stop importing oil from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, or Norway should Energy East have gone ahead, because Energy East was primarily an export pipeline. There is, in fact, no refinery in eastern Canada, in New Brunswick, that has the capacity to upgrade bitumen and refine it, which puts a bit of a problem to this idea that getting it to New Brunswick was somehow going to reduce the importation of 800,000 barrels of foreign oil a day.

I would agree with my friend that it would be far preferable to refine bitumen in Canada and use it domestically and therefore not be importing foreign oil, but Energy East would not have accomplished that at all. The way to accomplish that is to look to Alberta and build upgraders and refineries in Alberta to end the divisive pipeline battles we see that do Canadians no good at all, pitting Albertans against British Columbians or against people from Quebec.

The other thing that is absolutely mistaken is the notion that TransCanada cancelled because of something that was done by the current Liberal government. I would congratulate the current Liberal government if it had lived up to its promise in the election campaign to make decisions based on evidence and to look at the absolutely disastrous mess created by Bill C-38 that put the National Energy Board, for the first time, in charge of environmental assessments of pipelines. It is not working. It has not worked since it started in 2012. We have pipeline reviews that have gone completely off the rails and have taken the NEB out of its usual regulatory role. As a former practising lawyer, I used to appear before the National Energy Board. It was a reliable agency. One could appear before it and expect procedural fairness under its quasi-judicial status. Throw in environmental reviews and we have a gong show of an agency that has lost respect from the public.

Back to my friend’s point that this was Liberal interference in the review process, there is a very simple explanation. It is economics. It is that there are so many pipelines now approved, two of them that would affect TransCanada’s delivery on the project. With Keystone being approved, Energy East did not make economic sense anymore for TransCanada. That is understood by resource economists.

If my friend thinks I am wrong, could he name a refinery in New Brunswick that has the capacity to process bitumen?

Blake Richards – Member for Banff-Airdrie

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member’s lecture. I would like to say that it was informative, but I really cannot say that. I hope she satisfied her own need to provide a lecture to the House.

In some odd, convoluted way, I suppose she has a point in saying that the Energy East pipeline itself would not have allowed us to serve energy needs. Of course not. However, the refinery that was being proposed would have. Unfortunately, that is the kind of thing we see dead as the result of this decision.

Yes, it was a business decision, but it was a decision based on the endless changes to the regulatory process, which were designed by the government, and I do not exaggerate in saying this, to try to prevent our oil and gas from getting to market. That is what they were designed to do. I thank the member for the opportunity to highlight that once again. I thank the member for the opportunity to highlight just how wrong she is. I thank the member for the opportunity to remind the government how wrong it is in trying to kill our energy industry and in making sure that the thousands of Albertans and Canadians who are out of work remain so, for continuing to inflict harm on our local economies and local communities as a result, and for the damage that then does to the environment as a result of our far more environmentally friendly oil.

I would challenge the member who asked the question to stand up and indicate if she believes that our oil is not more environmentally friendly than it is in places like Saudi Arabia and others. That is a question she should be answering. It is a question the government should be answering, because I cannot understand why it would want to see that oil being produced, rather than ours, to feed the world’s energy needs and help the environment in the process.

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