A Common Front for the Common Good

Delegates to the 2013 Energy and Mines Ministers Conference in Whitehorse   visited a large wind-turbine installation that would significantly reduce GHG emissions from an operating mine.  Yet the Official Press Release for the Conference said nothing about the great potential of renewable energy in the Northern Territories.

This Press Release summarized the consensus reached at the Conference. It had nothing but positive words for pipelines, which it referred to as infrastructure.

The Press Release repeated words spoken by Joe Oliver, then the Federal Minister for Natural Resources Canada, in his speech opening the  Conference:

“Given the huge and growing global demand for natural resources, Canada is well positioned to take advantage of opportunities to supply new markets in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere, we must work collaboratively to put in place the conditions necessary for Canada to diversify its markets, particularly the construction of infrastructure. This is a strategic imperative since Canada currently exports virtually all its oil and gas to the United States where rapidly expanding shale gas and tight oil developments mean it will need Canadian resources less in the future.”

Fortunately the Government of Ontario has been re-thinking its position on “infrastructure”. The recent Ontario/Quebec common front on the TransCanada Pipelines project “Energy East” shows that these Governments are defending the interests of their citizens.  Residents of these provinces will get little benefit from this  pipeline but must live with the risks of its operation.

An important feature in their common front is a condition that the National Energy Board (the NEB- which must approve the project) considers the effect of the pipeline on GHG levels.

When it approved the Northern Gateway pipeline the NEB ignored the increase of GHG emissions that would be the ultimate result from a “tar sands” pipeline. If these Governments can convince the NEB that they must consider this potential factor at the approval stage there is hope for rejection of the Energy East pipeline.

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