Grande Prairie – Mackenzie MP Chris Warkentin has called TransCanada’s decision to halt the Energy East pipeline a “devastating blow” to Alberta and the oil and gas industry. In a statement, the company said it was pulling the plug on the controversial $15.7-billion proposal after reviewing “changed circumstances.”
Warkentin argues Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government should have done more to get the proposal built.
“The government should have given the go ahead for the process to begin. They stalled it by two years, which allowed the forces that opposed the project to build up their support base and it strung it out long enough that market conditions made it so difficult and so impossible for the project to move forward.”
The National Energy Board expanded its review of the pipeline in August to assess the full range of climate-change-related impacts, including its indirect downstream greenhouse gas contributions. That prompted TransCanada to ask the NEB to halt its hearings so it could review the new assessment process.
“We’re looking at the culmination of work that the government’s done to try to put roadblocks over the last year and a half,” says Warkentin, “but really in the last several months we got a sense that the government was doing nothing to lift a finger to try to support the project.”
Warkentin points to the government’s 2016 rejection of the Northern Gateway pipeline and a bill to ban tankers on B.C.’s north coast as a “troubling pattern” he sees making the United States the only consumer of Canadian oil. He holds out hope that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion can still get built.
“I think what we have learned is that if market conditions allow for a project to be built, we have to move forward with those projects when they are feasible, because if they are delayed for year after year after year they will inevitably become unpalatable to the proponent.”
Trans Mountain was approved by the Liberal government last November but it’s facing several legal challenges.