After years of advocacy and thousands of emails from supporters like you, the National Energy Board (NEB) finally listened: The climate impacts of the proposed Energy East pipeline matter, and should be assessed by the project review panel.
Last week, the NEB panel reviewing Energy East released a draft list of the issues it will consider when assessing the proposed pipeline. The panel proposes to consider the carbon emissions associated with Energy East. This includes the emissions from the construction and operation of the proposed pipeline, the tar sands expansion it would enable, and the emissions from burning the oil carried by Energy East.
Carbon pollution might seem like an obvious issue for the NEB to consider, but it’s actually a first! And it’s the result of years of pressure from the Canadian public and groups like Environmental Defence. It’s part of a last-ditch effort by the federal government to restore some semblance of public confidence in the NEB’s review of Energy East.
The assessment of carbon pollution isn’t the only first. Last week’s announcement also invites the public to comment on the new list of issues the review panel proposes to assess. In the past, only a limited list of approved participants was allowed to comment and participate in the review. You can send comments to the review panel here.
The new Energy East panel also proposes a much more fulsome and detailed list of issues to take under consideration in its review—issues we’ve been pushing on for years, including:
- the impacts that government climate action (such as the Paris Agreement, Canada’s climate targets, the pan-Canadian climate framework, the Alberta Oil Sands Emissions Cap, and other provincial and federal climate plans) may have on the economic need for the project;
- the environmental and socioeconomic impacts, carbon pollution, and changes to electricity demand that would result from the operation of Energy East;
- Expanded consideration of the effects of marine shipping from the 300 per cent increase in tankers that Energy East would bring to the Bay of Fundy;
These are crucial issues that Environmental Defence and others asked the NEB panel to include in its assessment of Energy East.
The NEB panel has taken positive steps with this announcement, but it is putting the cart before the horse. Just days after the proposed additions to the list of issues, the Expert Panel on NEB Modernization released a report recommending dramatic changes to energy regulation, environmental assessments, and pipeline reviews in Canada. It even recommended the abolition of the NEB itself. The recommended reforms could take months, perhaps years, to implement.
If the federal government truly wants a credible review of Energy East that enjoys public confidence, it should postpone the NEB review until the overhaul of energy regulation and environmental laws is complete. Anything less will lack credibility and be plagued by controversy and delay. Moving forward with the review would make Energy East the last tar sands pipeline to undergo NEB review using a broken, outdated process by a regulator that might not even exist a year from now.
But if the federal government insists on moving forward with the Energy East—before NEB modernization is complete—then we need to be able to tell the NEB that this pipeline would blow Canada’s climate commitments and the Alberta emissions cap, and does not make economic sense in a world moving away from fossil fuels.
For the first time ever in a NEB pipeline review(!), make your voice heard. Tell the Energy East panel to consider carbon pollution in its review of Energy East.