J.D. Irving Ltd. announced this week that its subsidiary Atlantic Wallboard is leaving New Brunswick's struggling natural gas distribution system — a move that wouldn't be allowed elsewhere.

'This causes an earth tremor under that house of cards that represents the gas distribution system in New Brunswick.' - David Coon, Green Party Leader

The company, the largest customer on the Enbridge Gas New Brunswick pipeline system, plans to leave it next year.

Green Party Leader David Coon believes this may jeopardize the province's already strained natural gas system.

hi-irving-wallboard-852

Atlantic Wallboard, a JDI subsidiary, is the largest customer on New Brunswick's natural gas distribution system. (CBC)

"This causes an earth tremor under that house of cards that represents the gas distribution system in New Brunswick."

Compressed natural gas delivered by truck — much of it by Irving Oil — is common in Nova Scotia, but it's only allowed in areas not serviced by pipelines.

Trucked-in compressed gas is not allowed because it undermines the public system, according to Dalhousie University law professor William Lahey, who designed the rules Nova Scotia follows.

"If you allow the large industrial and institutional customers to access natural gas by trucking, you could undermine the financial viability of the regulated pipeline utility," he said.

But New Brunswick does not have a similar rule and Irving says the business case for Atlantic Wallboard is clear — gas is cheaper by truck than it is from Enbridge's pipeline.