The Ontario government has asked the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to undertake consultations and prepare a report on the controversial proposed Energy East Pipeline.
The 4,500-kilometre Energy East Pipeline would ship up to 1.1 million barrels per day of oil from Alberta to refineries and export terminals in Quebec and New Brunswick.
The proposal involves converting a portion of TransCanada’s underused natural gas mainline to oil service and building 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline to Saint John. It is an interprovincial undertaking that requires approval from the National Energy Board to proceed.
Supporters cite the benefits of an expanded and diverse supply of energy across Canada and potential economic benefits (including job creation and increased GDP) from the proposed project.
Opponents argue that the proposal to convert an old natural gas mainline to transport high volumes of diluted bitumen carries with it significant safety and environmental risks. However, the underlying agenda appears to be opposition to infrastructure that will facilitate the distribution of “dirty” oil from Alberta’s tar sands.
The proposed Energy East Pipeline is a project that falls under the jurisdiction of the National Energy Board, and the OEB’s report will inform Ontario’s participation in the federal approval process.
The OEB will be asked to consider and report on the following issues:
- Ensuring safety for the people of Ontario
- Protecting the environment
- Maintaining the reliability of Ontario’s natural gas supply
- Establishing future benefits for the economy.
In his letter to the OEB, the Minister seeks a “broad and transparent” Board consultation process that will allow the public, including First Nation and Métis communities, local communities and stakeholders to share their views on the pipeline proposal.
The pipeline is one of two projects that have been proposed to move oil out of Western Canada.
Enbridge Inc. plans to reverse its Line 9B to carry western crude to meet Quebec’s refining needs. The National Energy Board conducted hearings on the proposal in October, with a decision expected in 2014.
As a measure of the level of controversy over these pipelines, Enbridge was forced amid security concerns to make its final submissions in writing in that hearing.
To read Minister Chiarelli’s letter to the OEB, please click here