Keystone XL rejection puts pressure on Energy East pipeline approval

Trudeau government supports Energy East

APTN National News
The White House’s rejection of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline increases the need for approval of the energy firm’s Energy East project, according to federal and provincial Canadian leaders.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced the final rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline project Friday which he said was done on climate change grounds.

The rejected pipeline would have transported Alberta tar sands bitumen into the U.S. and down to Texas. The White House described the bitumen that would have been pumped through the pipeline as the “dirtiest oil on the planet.”

The Keystone XL rejection triggered statements of disappointment from provincial and federal leaders, who also highlighted that it increased pressure on the need to approve the west-to-east Energy East pipeline project.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement saying Ottawa wasn’t happy with the project’s rejection.

“We are disappointed by the decision but respect the right of the United States to make the decision,” said Trudeau.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the U.S. decision highlighted the need for Alberta to improve its climate change game.

“We need to do a better job on climate change,” said Notley. “The fact of the matter is the U.S. relies on our oil, they currently import over (2.3) million barrels a day.”

Saskatchewan Premier Bard Wall was much more critical of Obama’s decision

“Today’s announcement is very disappointing, not only for our energy sector, but also for the signal it sends about Canada-US relations,” said Wall in a statement. “This issue is more about U.S. domestic politics than it is about good environmental policy.”

Wall said the Keystone XL rejection puts pressure on the need to approve TransCanada’s other pipeline project, Energy East which. That project would transport Alberta and Saskatchewan oil to Irving Oil refinery operations in Saint John, NB.

“This decision makes approval of Energy East even more crucial and it will be one of Saskatchewan’s top priorities as we begin our work with the new federal government,” said Wall’s statement.

Global Affairs Minister Stephane Dion also said Keystone XL’s rejection increased pressure on the need to approve Energy East. Dion said that while the Liberal government supports that pipeline project, it is focused on bolstering the confidence in the environmental approval process for the project.

“It’s more pressure to succeed in our plan to have a strong economy and strong environment,” said Dion. “You cannot succeed in the world economy today if you don’t succeed in creating strong confidence in the environmental assessment.”

While some First Nations have expressed opposition to Energy East, Saskatchewan’s main chiefs organization has said it would support the project subject some conditions, including a stake in the project.

Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said support for the project remained contingent on Ottawa, Saskatchewan and TransCanada respecting “inherent and treaty rights” and creating of a proper consultation process.

“So that First Nations are part of the project and receive a fair share of the economic benefits. This includes such things as impact benefit agreements, jobs and receiving royalties on an annual basis,” said Cameron, in a previous statement.

The about $12 billion, 4,600 kilometre Energy East pipeline project would carry about 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta to New Brunswick.

The pipeline will cross the territories of about 155 First Nations.

The National Energy Board is currently holding hearings on the Energy East project as part of the approval process. The NEB is scheduled to hear oral traditional evidence from First Nations from Nov. 9 to Dec. 15.

The previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper considered the NEB hearings fulfilling Ottawa’s duty to consult.

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