New Brunswick

Energy East less likely to go ahead under new NEB guidelines, says Green Party leader

Under new guidelines, the Energy East pipeline is a lot less likely to proceed, Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says.

Elizabeth May stops in New Brunswick on Monday as part of tour of Maritimes

Elizabeth May, leader of the federal Green Party, says the proposed Energy East pipeline shouldn't win approval for a variety of reasons, commercial as well as environmental. (Cari Blanchard/CBC News)

Under new guidelines, the Energy East pipeline is a lot less likely to proceed, Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says.

May is on a tour of the Maritimes this week, on the heels of new national energy board guidelines for the Energy East project — a proposed 4,500-kilometre pipeline from Alberta to Saint John — that focus more attention on greenhouse gas emissions, both upstream and downstream.

Last week, the NEB, which advises the government on whether a pipeline project is in the public interest, said it would consider Energy East's commercial viability in light of Canada's climate-change policies.

"There's multiple reasons why this pipeline shouldn't proceed," May said in an interview.

"I think it's now less likely."

The Energy East pipeline, which would carry diluted bitumen, is a market issue as well as an environmental one for Canadians, May said.

"The market for very expensive, unprocessed solid bitumen is not a good market," she said. 

Also going against the project is bitumen itself, which May said is a substance that can't be cleaned up.

"How much do you want to try to pretend there's a market, and there's a market for pipelines, including Energy East, which is primarily for export of raw bitumen to other countries and their refineries?" 

"There's a lot of propaganda about how Energy East is about getting it [bitumen] to refineries in Atlantic Canada … it'll go right by them because they can't handle that product."

NEB AND environmental reviews

May said the National Energy Board shouldn't be doing environmental reviews in the first place.

"You cannot in the 21st century assess a big project and leave out what's its impact [is] on the climate crisis," she said.

May uses examples of the forest fires in British Columbia and the flooding crisis in Houston. 

"We're looking around the world at the daily news as a review of extreme weather events," she said. 

Questions on right whale deaths

May's tour also comes as scientists search for answers to the plight of the North Atlantic right whale, now that 13 of the endangered mammals have been found dead this year, most of them in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

You're looking at a substantially increased risk of extinction and we have to do much more.- Elizabeth May, Green Party leader

May said she's pleased with Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc's decision to implement a temporary mandatory slowdown for certain vessels to try to prevent more whale deaths in the gulf.

But she said that's not enough.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May welcomes some federal measures to save North Atlantic right whales, but says not enough is being done. This whale carcass was found in Cape Ray, on the west coast of Newfoundland. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

"When you take ship strikes, entanglements … the bigger question is, why are they in the Gulf of St. Lawrence?" she said, referring to the unexpectedly high number of whales that went to the gulf this year, when they used to be drawn in geater numbers to the Bay of Fundy.

Only about 500 North Atlantic right whales are left in the world, according to fisheries officials.

Preliminary necropsy reports on some of the gulf deaths suggest ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement are possible causes. A final report is expected by mid-September, and will be made public.

"You're looking at a substantially increased risk of extinction and we have to do much more," May said.


  • An earlier version of this story said the pipeline would carry raw bitumen. In fact, it would carry diluted bitumen.
    Aug 28, 2017 2:47 PM AT