Saint John, N.B. Mayor Don Darling is so concerned about the possible demise of the Energy East pipeline that he interrupted his vacation to enlist the help of his Calgary counterpart Friday.
On Sept. 7, TransCanada Corp. suspended its application for 30 days on the $15.7 billion route that would carry Alberta oilsands product from Hardisty, Alta. to Saint John after the National Energy Board said its review would now consider upstream greenhouse gas emissions.
The company has warned the project could ultimately be cancelled.
On Friday, both mayors urged the Calgary-based NEB and Ottawa to ditch an approach they called discriminatory.
“We need stringent regulation but we also need regulation that makes decisions and doesn’t leave projects in limbo, that ensures everyone is playing on a level playing field,” said Nenshi.
The Calgary mayor said singling out Energy East for greenhouse gas emissions “is madness” when there are already regulations on upstream activity and considering the Alberta oil will reach the East Coast in other ways.
“It’s not like the oil will stay in the ground, it will be transported by rail,” he said.
Darling, who took time from a family wedding in Calgary to meet with Nenshi, said the NEB’s decision to change tack by adding the GHG component three years into the process “is concerning and unacceptable.”
He said among the thousands of jobs that’d be created by the pipeline that would carry 1.1 million barrels of oil a day are more than 3,500 full-time or spinoff positions in New Brunswick.
“This is more than an opportunity for our cities, this is prosperity for our country,” he said.
Much of the Energy East infrastructure already exists, but a section must be built across Quebec, many of whose leaders object to it on environmental grounds.
Darling said he’ll be meeting with Quebec officials and those in other provinces to persuade them of the need for a quicker review.
“I will absolutely meet with mayors in Quebec and Ontario and anywhere else across the country who want to talk about Energy East,” he said.
Opponents of the pipeline and others contend it’ll add to climate change pollution while creating the risk of spills along its route.
Nenshi said the Alberta oil would simply displace product brought into eastern Canada from countries like Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Algeria in a much safer transport method than rail.